Viral Video of SEPTA Officers’ Brutality

September 20th, 2013 by admin

When it comes to videos of police brutality, there are usually at least three sides to the story—the one that the officers tell, the one that the victim tells, and the one that the video tells. Rarely, when you put these three together, do you get a full picture. Usually, there are pieces missing.

This is likely the case in a recent video shot of SEPTA officers taking down and punching a young man, a video that has garnered significant attention online.

The video is short—7 seconds—but in it you see several officers surrounding a black male, taking him to the ground and at least one punch being landed on his head as he assumed the fetal position, covering his face.

The description that accompanied the original online posting of the video said, “Unwarranted aggression and abuse of power by the Philadelphia Police Dept. on a young man that was not under arrest or resisting arrest.” While the video was later discovered to feature SEPTA officers, whether or not the force was unwarranted may or may not be apparent by viewing only 7 seconds of film.

According to officials from SEPTA, a number of people causing a “disturbance” made their way into the station at 15th and Market. As officers tried to “break things up,” “a number of people did not want to cooperate.”

SEPTA spokesperson Jerri Williams said of the SEPTA surveillance video which has not been released to the public, “Because of the large crowd and the camera angle, it does not allow us to see what is actually going on.” But, “We are initiating an Internal Affairs investigation, which is standard in a case like this. And we’ve sent out letters to all four people cited, asking them if they would like to provide us with a statement.”

One witness who contacted the Philly Post says the officers were hassling the youths, that no laws appeared to be broken and that the teens were trying to walk away from the scene but kept being dragged back by the officers.

The witness wrote:

Cops then said, “Where are you going? We aren’t done here,” and punched the kid that wasn’t wearing a shirt originally. Then they tackled and punched him which you see in the video. Directly after that they pepper sprayed all of the kids and beat them too.

So, what really happened. If this case goes the route of so many others like it, the police version will be the “official” version of events. The officers will not be reprimanded and the charges of disorderly conduct will stick against the youth. Still, we’ll never know what the camera missed.

A camera can’t catch everything and rarely is a camera even present during an arrest. If you are facing charges and are concerned you won’t get fair treatment within the Philly criminal courts, contact us today.

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