Brutal Philly Cops Seldom Held Accountable

February 19th, 2013 by admin

In a just world, cops don’t beat innocent civilians. Even in a somewhat-fair world, cops who beat civilians are held accountable, through firing or even criminal charges. But, if this is the case then Philadelphia is neither just nor even fair. Officers there, accused and even proven to have beaten citizens to a bloody pulp are still on the force, reprimanded with a verbal warning and sometimes not reprimanded at all.

According to an expose from the City Paper, one such officer has a history of brutality allegations.

Pennsylvanian Police in roman Temple DistrictOfficer Eric Burke has been on the force since 2007. In his brief career, he has been involved in an “unusually large number” of use of force reports, some of them against handcuffed civilians. He’s also been accused of insubordination and even an Internal Affairs finding that he severely assaulted a civilian.

In just one case, Burke is accused of beating Fernando Echevarria. Echevarria was walking in North Philly when he saw a friend in the back of a squad car. He noticed the friend looked worse for the wear, but continued on. Up the block some friends told him that the arresting officer (Burke) had given his friend a brutal once-over. At that time, Burke and another officer took the man out of the squad car and pulled his pants down to do a search in public. Echevarria pulled out his cell phone to capture it on camera.

Burke approached Echevarria and laid him out, cuffing him and scraping his head on the ground. Then, he stomped him in the head with his boot. Echeverria was driven six blocks away and told to get out. He was then punched in the face before a police van transported him to the hospital.

Five months before the Echeverria incident, Burke had a similar run in with Anthony Abrams, who he accused of trying to buy drugs. Before the encounter was over, Burke stomped him in the head repeatedly, requiring Abrams to get a titanium plate in his head to repair a crushed eye socket.

In the Abrams case, Burke would receive a written reprimand.

The Police Advisory Committee (PAC) has investigated Burke in regards to the Abrams’ case. Though that investigation is not complete, they’ve asked since 2011 that he be placed on restricted duty. But Burke remains on the street.

Burke is only one example of how the department’s system of police brutality is severely broken. When an officer can assault a civilian, charge the civilian with assault (which is typically later dropped) and walk away as if nothing happened, we have a problem.

If you are unjustly charged in a criminal case, it may be that the officer is just trying to cover his own butt. Whether you admit wrongdoing or believe you were targeted for some reason, we may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss your case.