Attorneys seek dismissal of charges against Philly man beaten by police in ’15

A screenshot from a phone video show police gathered around Tyree Carroll. (Courtesy of Tyree Carroll Family)

A screenshot from a phone video show police gathered around Tyree Carroll. (Courtesy of Tyree Carroll Family)

Attorneys for Tyree Carroll hope to convince a judge Wednesday that the case against the Germantown man should be dismissed, claiming that authorities planted drugs following a police beating captured on cellphone video by a neighbor.

After the graphic footage surfaced in July 2015, Carroll’s case attracted national attention and spawned mass street protests in Philadelphia. He was unarmed during the altercation.

At a motion hearing Tuesday, Carroll covered his ears as Common Pleas Judge Kai Scott watched on an Ipad a video of the incident that has been viewed nearly 200,000 times on YouTube. 

Bert Elmore, one of Carroll’s defense attorneys, put an arm around Carroll to console him.

Assistant District Attorney Whitney Golden asked that medical records be admitted as evidence documenting that Carroll was combative and uncooperative with hospital intake employees and officers who accompanied him to the hospital where he was treated for shortness of breath. 

Scott questioned the relevance of such records.

“I saw the video, you saw the video, we all saw the video,” Scott said. “That might be why he said F-U to the police.”

More important to Carroll’s lawyers, however, is the request that will be in front of Scott Wednesday — that the drugs police say they recovered from him not be admitted. Carroll’s attorneys hope that will convince Scott that police did not have the legally required reasonable suspicion to stop their client.

If Scott agrees, it would be difficult for prosecutors to continue the case.

If that motion to suppress the seized drugs fails, however, the case will move to trial. Carroll’s defense attorneys said, in that case, they may waive his right to a jury trial and instead start a bench trial on Wednesday.

Carroll was supposedly riding his bike the wrong way down a one-way street in Germantown when he was stopped by a plainclothes police officer April 3, 2015, shortly before midnight on East Locust Avenue.

Police, though, said Carroll started a fight with the officer, who knew Carroll from the neighborhood and said he was stopped over a suspected narcotics violation. Carroll was on probation at the time from a marijuana-possession conviction.

After calling for backup, more than a dozen officers arrived on the scene, several flocking around him to kick, punch and shout obscenities at Carroll.

As one officer approached a restrained Carroll, the officer said, “Here comes the Taser,” but police maintain that it was never used on Carroll.

Attorney Elmore said Carroll did not have drugs on him the night of the violent altercation with police. The crack cocaine police said they found, and additional drug charges filed later, were attempts to discredit Carroll, Elmore said.

Police deny that account.

Arresting Officer John Ellis testified that drugs were recovered. And early on, Carroll was resisting even police questions. 

“He would not comply at all,” Ellis said. 

Carroll bit Ellis during the altercation, an act Carroll has said was in self-defense. He was in a choke hold at the time, which placed pressure on his chest. 

Prosecutors have charged Carroll with assault, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and possession of crack cocaine.

No officers were found to have committed any wrongdoing following a police department internal affairs probe into the matter.

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