Philadelphia, PA. -- A Philadelphia police officer has been suspended with the intent to dismiss after critically injuring a frail 21-year-old man over alleged drug possession. Officer James Yeager's violence was so over the top that it prompted an internal affairs investigation leading to the punishment.
Last month, a witness recorded the brutality and posted it online to raise awareness about what she had seen. In the video, police can be seen brutalizing a man after he had been handcuffed because he was not allowing them to carry him away for arrest.
During the altercation, Yeager smashed the man's head against the side of a pool and threw him against the ground repeatedly. The man showed no signs of fighting or violence and was simply making himself "dead weight" and attempting to sit down on the ground.
"We can't resort to that type of behavior just because we're confronted with resistance. It's just not within the tenants of what we do. It's not within our training and it's not within our policy," Commissioner Richard Ross told FOX 29 on Friday.
According to the witness, Ariel Rivera, the arrest was taking place because the man was caught with a bag of "dope," but it was not specified whether this was marijuana heroin or another drug. For those that are unaware, "dope" is a slang that is used to describe many different drugs. However, regardless of the type of drug that this man was in possession of, he had not hurt anyone and was not fighting back against the officers.
“3 Philadelphia police officers beat the bs out of this guy over one bag of dope smh share to stop this police brutality. The reason I recorded it and posted it and pushed for people to share it is because this isn’t something that happens once in a blue moon in our neighborhood, this is very common. A lot of people go through stuff like this. Our community is bad enough already, to be honest, we should not have to fear calling the police,” Rivera said.
According to reports, the man was so badly injured that he is still recovering nearly a month after officer Yeager attacked him.
According to Rivera, the victim of the assault is a homeless man who sleeps in a nearby park. She believes that the police were running the homeless people out of the park.
Recommended for You
“They must have raided and arrested people in the park…and he began to run from them. I saw police were kicking this guy in his head and hitting him with their batons before I started recording,” Rivera said.
During the altercation, a group of bystanders pleaded for the police to take it easy on the man, but they ignored the crowd and formed a chain around him.
Kensington is known by locals as one of the worst drug areas in the city, especially for heroin addicts. So, the response to this video has been very mixed, with some people fed up with police brutality, and just as many fed up with the area's heroin epidemic.
However, when the police actually take action against one of their own, this is a sign that things have gotten pretty bad.
Rivera did not expect the type of backlash that she received after posting the video.
“This wasn’t something I posted to divide people, this is something I posted to spread awareness. The police officers that do their job well deserve to have respect and those that don’t need to be held accountable,” Rivera said.
Whether or not officer Yeager will face criminal charges for his brutality is still up in the air. According to the department, the District Attorney's office has now taken over the case and will decide to press charges or not.
Below is the raw video.