Cops in Philadelphia still can’t bring themselves to abide by the law. And their supervisors don’t seem all that interested in asking them to.
TAMERA MEDLEY begged the police officer to stop slamming her head – over and over – into the hood of a police cruiser.
Thinking they were helping, passers-by Shakir Riley and Melissa Hurling both turned their cellphone video cameras toward the melee that had erupted on Jefferson Street in Wynnefield, they said.
But then the cops turned on them.
Riley had started to walk away when at least five baton-wielding cops followed him, he said, and they beat him, poured a soda on his face and stomped on his phone, destroying the video he had just taken.
Meanwhile, two officers approached Hurling, urged her to leave and, after exchanging a few words, slammed her against a police cruiser, Hurling said. They pulled her by her hair before tossing her into the back of a cop car, she said.
Although it’s legal to record Philadelphia police performing official duties in public, all three were charged with disorderly conduct and related offenses, and officers destroyed Hurling and Riley’s cellphones, erasing any record of Medley’s violent arrest, the pair said.
Charges against Hurling and Riley were dismissed, but Medley was found guilty last month of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, harassment and related offenses. She was fined $500 but has filed an appeal.
Echoes of the incident, which was corroborated by a half-dozen witnesses, have been reverberating nationwide in recent years as the combination of cellphone video and police officers has simmered into what is an increasingly explosive formula . . .
In another case last month, police allegedly began beating Darrell Holloway, who is legally blind, with flashlights and batons during a narcotics investigation on a West Philly street. There wasn’t much his cousin Jamal Holloway could do but record the incident on his phone.
Jamal, 33, said that when officers spotted him filming, he was detained and taken to a police station at 55th and Pine streets. Before he was brought inside, an officer told him to delete the video.
“One female cop told me to delete the stuff and then I can walk,” Jamal recalled, adding that the cop said she would confiscate his phone. “I was there close up. I can’t believe it happened like – they beating my cousin like that and he’s in the situation he’s in.”
Jamal said he opted to erase the footage. . .
Then in July, Zanberle Sheppard, 24, said neighbors told her that police were beating her handcuffed boyfriend, Tayvon Eure, in an alley behind their home on 65th Street near Chester.
Sheppard said she peered out her back window and began to film the arrest. After officers saw her, she said, they banged on her neighbor’s door. Sheppard ran outside and around to the alley with her cellphone, she said, and that’s when a cop told other officers to grab her phone.
She claims that when she pulled away from the cops, one officer grabbed her by her hair and she dropped her phone. Neighbor Robin Artis, 17, said she saw a cop punch Sheppard in the face and stomp her. Sheppard had a black eye and a bruised lip.
The next time she saw her phone was when the cop who allegedly beat her boyfriend came into the police station where Sheppard was and threw it at her, she said. The back of her phone was broken, the battery was missing and the video was gone.
These are crimes. The cops in these cases destroyed evidence. And the courts have been clear on the right to record on-duty police in Pennsylvania. Of course, when the city DA himself has no respect for the constitutional rights of his constituents, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when street-level cops follow his example. Especially when there are no consequences when they break the law.