PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Six Philadelphia policeman were removed from street duties after being captured on videotape beating three suspects in a drug-related shooting, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said on Wednesday.
Ramsey told a news conference he expects more officers to be identified and reassigned to administrative duties after a detailed examination of the video, shot by a Fox TV news helicopter on Monday night.
The video shows about a dozen officers kicking and punching the three men whose car had been stopped following police surveillance of a drug-dealing operation in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia. A fourth man who was in the car fired on another group of men on a street corner, then fled on foot and is still at large, Ramsey said.
The beating follows the daylight killing last Saturday of Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, the third Philadelphia policeman to die on duty in the last two years.
The officer’s killing has put police under a great deal of “stress and pressure,” but that cannot justify the behavior of the men seen in the video, Ramsey said.
“Emotions run very high in our department right now. But ... we do expect them to maintain a standard of conduct on the streets that is above reproach,” he said.
The video will be sent to Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham who will decide whether to file criminal charges, Ramsey said.
The three beating victims have been charged with assault, conspiracy and reckless endangerment following their involvement in the shooting, police said. Their attorney said they all had severe bruising from the attack.
Reporting by Jon Hurdle; Editing by Daniel Trotta