Philadelphia police were caught on videotape today pulling a shooting suspect out of a suspected stolen police cruiser and beating him on the street.
The video shows Philadelphia police beating and kicking the suspect, who was identified as Thomas Jones, 30. Minutes earlier, Jones and the police had been engaged in a wild shootout on the streets of north Philadelphia.
“Clearly, the activity on the tape is troubling,” said Philadelphia Mayor John Street at a press conference late Wednesday night. “We have unanswered concerns.”
Both Mayor Street and Philadelphia Police Chief John F. Timoney promised a fair and thorough investigation into the incident, which critically injured the suspect and in which three police officers were also hurt.
Street, who was in Baltimore for the convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, returned to Philadelphia because of the incident, spokeswoman Luz Cardenas said.
Jones’ fiancee, Victoria Bryant, told the Philadelphia Daily News that his body was still shaking — hours after the beating. “It’s like he thinks somebody is trying to hit him,” said Bryant after a hospital visit.
In an interview with the Daily News, Bryant’s mother, Peaches Wright, compared Jones’ beating to the 1991 battering of Los Angeles motorist Rodney
King by white police officers. The King incident touched off race riots.
“What you see is Rodney King in two different colors,” she told the Daily News.
Wednesday’s incident, Wright said, had both white and black officers beating on the suspect.
The incident began at 12:40 Wednesday afternoon after police noticed the suspect driving erratically and attempted to pull him over. The officers identified the car as having been reported stolen July 1 in a carjacking, according to Timoney. Jones is a suspect in the carjacking.
Police cornered the suspect, a gun battle ensued and 45 shots were fired. The suspect was wounded five times and then made off with another car, a police cruiser, before coming to a stop several blocks away.
Two internal affairs investigations — one into the shootout between Jones and the cops, and the other into the videotaped beating — have already begun, Timoney said. He cautioned reporters at the press conference that it would take time to uncover all the details of the incident. “This is not going to be overnight,” Timoney said. “This is not even going to be two weeks. This is going to take a while.”
Another investigation was being conducted into the alleged crimes, as well, as is standard police procedure.
Kicking and Beating ABCNEWS affiliate WPVI captured the dramatic footage of the incident.
Some 40 police cars made their way up North Broad Street, a major Philadelphia thoroughfare, and other city streets in pursuit.
Police finally stopped the stolen cruiser, and surrounded it with their guns drawn.
“There was about 100 police cars come flying down the street and they grab the guy right away,” said Stan Kaplan, who witnessed the action.
As backup arrives, a dozen officers are seen on the video opening the car door, then dragging the suspect out, and forcing him to the ground.
For about 35 seconds they can be clearly seen beating and kicking the suspect on the ground, with more officers watching. Other officers appear to be trying to restrain their colleagues, pulling them by the arms.