Police frame ups

Scott Marshall Scott at rednet.org
Thu Oct 5 16:29:00 MDT 1995


Some seem to think that the OJ verdict can be treated as a thing in itself
and that justice for OJ is somehow not connected to other questions of
justice or injustice and racism. Maybe this will help with perspective:

Another excellent report by Jose Santiago of radio station WBAI
99.5FM about the criminal police force of Philadelphia broadcast
10/4/95:

JOSE: One of the greatest police scandals in the nation's history
involves 6 Philadelphia cops right now but reports say dozens of other
might eventually be implicated.  Yesterday, as the verdict was being
read in the Simpson trial in LA, Philadelphia officials were
announcing that another group of people serving time in Pennsylvania
jails were being released from prison because they were convicted on
the basis of false testimony from Philadelphia cops.  Will Gonzalez is
executive director of Philadelphia's Police-Barrio Relations Project,
a group that monitors police corruption and misconduct.  He says that
the Simpson's defense team's contention that the LA police planted
evidence in the case does not sound that far fetched, because that is
exactly what has happened in a number of cases in Philadelphia:

WILL: There is a very good parallel, that is right now in
Philadelphia there are revelations of at least 6 police officers
who have declared themselves guilty in federal court to fabricating
evidence, planting evidence, stealing and physical abuse against
citizens.  As a result of their guilty pleas, hundreds, and possibly
thousands of cases are going to be dismissed against people.  AMong
the victims is a grandmother who had evidence fabricated against her
and spent some time in jail.  Slowly but surely, people who have spent
time in jail because of the antics of these police officers are being
set free and other criminal charges against others are slowly being
dismissed.  It show here how the police misconduct is effecting not
just OJ, but alot of people.

JOSE: The last time I checked with Philadelphia police officials, I
was told that sometimes 40 or 42 people have been released from
prisons or charges have been dropped against them because of this
case.  But I'm told there was some more that were released yesterday,
can you tell us about that?

WILL: Yes, there was some more people whose cases were dismissed
and the Defenders Association, public defenders in Philadelphia,
now have their own unit to specifically review each and every case
that involved those 6 officers.  Credit for discovering this group of
officers goes to the defenders because these officers were so callous
and they were using always the same fact pattern to make these false
arrests and false search warrants.  The Defenders Association
uncovered it.  It's interesting that now the very systems that looked
the other way, in these police corruption and misconduct are now
paying the price.  The DA's office has the responsibility to prosecute
fairly and make sure laws are followed. When they look the other way,
with the actions and testimony of police officers, now they have to
pay up for looking the other way. The same thing goes for the court
system, the judges, who supposed to be impartial and supposed to look
at the evidence and point out any attempts to deceive the courts.
They're paying for their oversight.

JOSE: Do you know the number of people whose charges were dismissed or
released from prison yesterday.

WILL: About a dozen.

JOSE: You been activity on the issue of police community relations ...
has included one particular case, that of Moises de Jesus, who died
after interaction with police.  Can you briefly tell us about this
incident and the hearings on the issue, at one of which there was a
some difficulties with Fraternal Order of Police members.

WILL: In Philadelphia, the Civilian Review Board is holding its
first set of public hearings on its first investigation into an
allegation of police misconduct.  It involves the case of Moises
de Jesus, who last August 94, died while in police custody.  Moises
was having difficulties, going through some seizures, as a result of a
previous brain injury and drug use.  HIs family called the police.
The police came.  There were a whole slew of violations of procedures.
 He was put in 3 different vehicles.  He was left in one vehicle on a
hot August evening with the windows rolled up. He was desperate.  He
kicked one of the windows in the back.  The officers proceeded to,
according to witnesses to hit and beat him, producing several injuries
to his head.  On the way to the hospital, there are allegations that
the van was swerving, and when he got to the hospital, there are
allegations that he was hit again.  WHen he got to the hospital, he
collapsed.  According to the city paid medical examiner, he died as a
result of drug intoxication compounded by the injuries he suffered
from blunt objects.  According to the city paid medical examiner, the
blows to the head were the straw that broke the camel's back.  Two
other pathologists, one hired by the commission, that concurred with
the examiner.  One was hired by the family who concurred with the city
medical examiner, but put more emphasis on the blows.  The police
version is that blows to the head were caused by de Jesus striking the
pavement.  They allege that he dove out of the police car. They say
that his head injuries were caused by hitting the pavement.  The
medical examiners and other 2 pathologists said that the injuries to
his head are not consistent to a fall on the pavement because there
were no scrape marks, the ground being a very abrasive surface.  At
this point, only 3 of the 9 officers involved have testified.  There
will be a hearing in federal court on Thursday to determine of the
other 6 will testify.  We hope that in the evening the hearings will
continue with the testimony of the other 6 remaining officers.

JOSE: I understand that the community has been asking for hearings on
this and that there was resistance on the part of the authorities, but
recently, the civilian complaint review board was able to have a
hearing or two in Philadelphia, and that there were some difficulties
at that hearing, I wonder if you can tell what the tone of the hearing
was.

WILL: The commission has tried to do its work but throughout has
been met with obstacles.  It finally was able to hold its first
public hearings on this case starting on September 18, and we think
they'll go on for another week.  This is the first thorough
investigation into the case.  Internal affair and the justice
department have not concluded their investigation.  The DA's office
called an investigation but never interviewed any officers or civilian
witnesses.  A lot of things are coming out.  Last week at 2 of the
hearings, there were some disturbances as members who are taking the
side of the police caused a number of interruptions and physically and
verbally tried to intimidate some people.

JOSE: I understand that the interruptions and intimidation went
beyond what happened in the hearing itself ...

WILL: There's been some trash talk outside of the hearing room and in
the community.  I don't know how to explain it, I call it trash talk.

JOSE: Is there a sense by any activists fighting for justice in
this case that they are individually or as a group being threatened by
police, the fraternal order of police, because they've been speaking
out.

WILL: I wouldn't say that it comes from the Fraternal Order, it
might be some officer.  I have not received a call from somebody
specifically saying that they're from there.  There's always a
bunch of crazy people.  Instead of dissuading us, it motivates us to
move forward.

JOSE: Will Gonzalez is executive director of Philadelphia's Police-
Barrio Relations Project.  While he was reluctant to discuss
allegations that police threatened local activists, WBAI has learned
that a number of community leaders have been threatened in
Philadelphia, including one who shot a video tape of a recent civilian
complaint review board meeting, who had his camera wrenched out of his
hands and stolen by a man believed to be a police officer or police
supporter.  The current probe comes at the same time the Fraternal
ORder of Police has pressured state legislators to introduce a bill
that would dismantle Philadelphia's civilian complaint review board.

-30-





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