Philadelphia, PA — Last year, two Philly cops were charged with the assault of a man after surveillance footage revealed the officers lied about the incident.
In spite of the laundry list of charges that Officers Kevin Robinson and Sean McKnight were facing and video evidence of their crimes, a jury somehow found them not guilty this week.
Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Criminal Conspiracy, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Tampering with Public Records or Information, False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities, Obstructing Administration of Law, and Official Oppression were some of those charges.
The charges were the result of an incident that happened in May of 2013 when the two officers pulled over 23-year-old Najee Rivera on his motor scooter.
Police say Rivera got scared of the officers and drove off. Both of the officers wrote in their official reports that Rivera fell off of his scooter and hit the pavement.
According to the officers’ account, Rivera resisted arrest, tried to grab a police baton, and that’s when one of the officers hit him in the face. Rivera was subsequently charged with resisting arrest and aggravated assault.
Their entire ‘official’ account of what happened was a lie.
Just prior to the case going to court, a surveillance video surfaced from a nearby store. Rivera’s girlfriend, who knew Rivera was innocent of the charges, finally found the video after a long search.
“The video undermined every aspect of the officers’ account of the incident. A grand jury found none of it was true except for the blows inflicted on Najee Rivera,” Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said in a press conference after the video was released. However, it apparently did not matter.
Williams said Rivera didn’t just fall off his scooter, but one of the officers can be seen on the video reaching out the window of the patrol car and clubbing Rivera in the head.
The patrol car, without sirens or lights flashing, smashed into the scooter and Rivera fell to the ground, both officers got out of the vehicle and repeatedly struck Rivera with their fists and baton.
“He never resisted. He never struck them. He never fought back. They just started hitting him,” Williams said.
Rivera can be heard in the video screaming for help. After he was severely beaten and bleeding, he was then handcuffed and left for several minutes as he lay in a pool of his own blood.
Rivera was subsequently hospitalized for a fractured orbital bone and a multitude of abrasions and lacerations to his head.
“Hopefully this case will show Philadelphians that our system here works,” said Williams in February of last year.
Unfortunately, all this shows the public is that cops can attack innocent people, beat them to a pulp, lie about it, get caught lying about it, have their lies shown to a court on video, and get off — scot free.
Rivera settled a civil lawsuit last year for $200,000. However, most of it went to legal fees and medical bills. In December of last year, while he heroically defended a female friend, he was murdered.
“I’m disappointed … They’re supposed to protect our community, but now they can just give out a—-whuppings? I mean it was ridiculous. There was video, medical records,” his former girlfriend, Dina Scannapieco said. “All police officers are going to feel like it’s OK to use excessive force because this just shows them they’re going to get away with it.”
Sadly, Scannapieco is more than likely correct as this case could not have been more cut and dry. She even said that Rivera knew it was going to end up like this.
“He kind of knew that this was going to happen,” she said. “All he wanted was to get his job because they ruined his life. He knew that the cops were superior, and you can’t go up against them.”
After he had been beaten and falsely charged, Rivera was fired from his job at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. An online petition to get his job back garnered nearly 100,000 signatures but was unsuccessful.
As for the cops who ran him down, beat him, and falsely charged him — they’ll be back out on the streets with their badges and guns in no time.
“Yes, we will be bringing them back,” said Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 president John McNesby said via email.
Attention citizens of Philadelphia, watch out for these two public servants, interaction with them can be hazardous to your health.