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article imagePhiladelphia Police Brutality Not Race-Based, Officials Insist

By Brant David McLaughlin     May 8, 2008 in Crime
"We certainly are concerned about what we saw on the tape. The matter is being taken very seriously, even though emotions run very high in our department right now, because we just had our third officer killed in the last two years."
It has been reported that on Monday, May 5th, a Fox TV helicopter captured video of at least 12 and perhaps as many as 14 Philadelphia police officers surrounding a car carrying three men and dragging them out into what became a viciously excessive beating which involved the three being kicked, stomped on, and struck up to 20 times each with night sticks. The videotape has been released to officials and investigators in the hopes of indentifying all officers involved.
One police sergeant and five officers have been temporarily put on leave so far. ]
The grim event took place in the Huntington Park section of one of the United States' biggest cities (by population). Recently, in the close-by Port Richmond part of town, 12-year law enforcement veteran Sergeant Stephen Liczbinski, 39 years of age, was gunned down, making him the third Philly law enforcement member killed while on duty in the last two years.
Philly law enforcement authorities concede that officers' emotions are tipping the scales after last week's officer murder.
"We certainly are concerned about what we saw on the tape. The matter is being taken very seriously, even though emotions run very high in our department right now, because we just had our third officer killed in the last two years...But having said that, we do expect them to maintain a standard of conduct on the street that is above reproach," said Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey to the press yesterday.
According to police officers on the scene, the three men are all suspects in a drug-dealing ring and possibly in the killing of the police officer and they were observed firing guns from their car, shots which resulted in the injury of at least three citizens on a street corner. There was a fourth suspect but he ran away from the scene on foot, according to observers.
Adding to the incendiary nature of the event, most of the police officers involved were white, while the three men pulled from the car were black.
Philly law enforcement and government officials have staunchly denied that anything to do with race was involved in what they insist was the unacceptable behavior of their involved law enforcement squad. Philadelphia has a dense racial mixture, although blacks and whites tend to live in different parts of the sprawling city. Philadelphia's mayor, John. F. Street, is black.
The three men have been officially charged with assault, conspiracy, and reckless endangerment. They have an attorney who calls the event an incident of police brutality and seeks damage compensation for them.
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