Two Philadelphia police officers were arrested Thursday and charged with knocking a man off his motorized scooter in May 2013 and then brutally beating him before slapping on the handcuffs.
District Attorney Seth Williams, who was flanked at a press conference Thursday morning by Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, said the officers then falsified their police report to justify the use of excessive force.
After reviewing the results of grand jury investigation, Williams charged officers Kevin Robinson, a 6-year veteran, and Sean McKnight, a 7-year veteran, on Thursday. The two officers turned themselves into police.
Ramsey said Thursday that there is no acceptable reason for excessive use of force by a police officer.
“That’s why we’re here today,” Ramsey said. “I’m not trying to justify it at all. What they did was totally inappropriate, totally improper, totally in violation of any training, anything. Period.”
According to a report in the District Attorney’s Office, around 10 p.m. on May 29 Robinson and McKnight pursued Najee Rivera in North Philadelphia at 7th and Somerset Streets. After Rivera evaded the police in a short chase Rivera was thrown from the scooter and fell to the ground.
The two officers exited the vehicle, threw Rivera up against the wall of a building, and threw him to the ground to be handcuffed. In the process Rivera was hit with a baton and fists, according the DA’s report.
In their report, the officer’s claimed Rivera assaulted Robinson and resisted arrest. Rivera suffered a fractured orbital bone and other cuts and bruises.
Rivera found surveillance video of the incident from a business located on the 2700 block of North 6th St.,The video was retrieved by his girlfriend, who was not identified, and submitted to police. Charges against Rivera were dropped and both officers were taken off the street on July 10.
Regarding why it took so long — almost two years — for his office to bring charges, Williams said part of the delay was caused by the victim recovering from his injuries.
“The matter was working its way through with the city solicitor's office and the civil process,” Williams said. “We also wanted to be very thorough before putting it before a grand jury.”
Rivera had been previously arrested as a juvenile, but this was his first arrest as an adult, Williams said.
The two were charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, conspiracy, recklessly endangering another person, tampering with public records or information, false reports to law enforcement authorities, obstructing administration of law, and official oppression.