PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Two city police officers were arrested Thursday and accused of knocking a man off a scooter and beating him so severely that another officer thought he had been shot.
Officers Sean McKnight, 30, and Kevin Robinson, 26, were immediately suspended for 30 days and will likely be fired, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said. The pair had been off the street while a grand jury investigated.
Ramsey said the officers acted improperly and in total violation of department training.
“No one, not even police officers, is above the law,” District Attorney Seth Williams said as a video screen showed Najee Rivera’s beaten, swollen face.
Robinson’s attorney, Fortunato Perri Jr., said Rivera fled and refused commands to show his hands. “Once he’s under control, there’s no further physical” confrontation, Perri said.
McKnight’s attorney, Brian McMonagle, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The officers lied to their colleagues and superiors about the May 2013 encounter in North Philadelphia by casting Rivera as the antagonist and charging him with aggravated assault and resisting arrest, Ramsey and Williams said.
Williams said he dropped those charges and turned his attention to the officers when video surfaced showing them beating Rivera with their fists and batons after one of the officers reached out a cruiser window and knocked him from the scooter.
Rivera, 22, was frightened and drove away from the initial contact with the officers, Williams said. Ramsey said the officers violated protocol by pursuing him without activating their lights and sirens and that Rivera never resisted once they knocked him to the ground and held him against a wall.
“Another officer arrived on the scene and thought that Mr. Rivera had been shot because there was so much blood on the ground,” Williams said.
McKnight, a seven-year police veteran, and Robinson, a six-year veteran, were charged with aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, reckless endangerment, lying to authorities, falsifying records and obstructing justice.
The city has settled a lawsuit filed by Rivera for $200,000, Williams said.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.