What is normally a brief and poorly-attended meeting turned into a crowded and, at times, heated discussion among residents and supporters of Tyree Carroll on Tuesday night at Philadelphia’s 14th Police District monthly meeting.
A recently released video of Carroll being arrested in April shows more than a dozen police officers surrounding Carroll as he is being punched and kicked by several officers while he is down on the ground.
According to a statement from Philadelphia Police, Carroll bit two of the police officers as many as three times when he was stopped for a narcotics violation on April 3. Carroll was eventually taken into custody and 5.3 grams of crack cocaine were retrieved from his person.
While an Internal Affairs investigation is underway, family and friends of Carroll are calling for the officers involved in his arrest to be fired.
Carroll’s grandmother, Nancy Carroll; his sister, Ebony Carroll; and University of Pennsylvania Law School professor Dorothy Roberts — one of several unofficial spokesmen for the Justice for Tyree campaign —came to the meeting with a lot of questions for 14th District Captain Sekou Kinebrew.
“Why haven’t the names of the officers been released yet? It’s been three months. Why hasn’t anything been done?” Roberts asked.
Kinebrew ran the meeting, during which he provided updates on community crime rates and upcoming events, but had little to offer in the way of answering the many questions swirling around the arrest of Carroll.
“Anytime that our policy is broken, or the law is violated, it troubles us and it bothers us, and we don’t like it,” Kinebrew said. “But if you’re asking about the specifics of that case, I can’t really comment because an investigation is going on.”
He said after a report is put together, it’s sent to the District Attorney’s office, which decides whether to pursue charges.
“The pace at which it’s going, I know it’s going as fast as it can go while also being thorough. I would think we’d agree that you wouldn’t want a hasty investigation one way or the other,” he said.
Roberts said she was dissatisfied with the police’s response.
“I understand that there’s an investigation going on and I’m glad that there’s an investigation going on, but I don’t understand why the names of the officers involved can’t be released,” she said. “That doesn’t interfere with an investigation. I don’t understand why something can’t be done immediately about the officers who were in the video when you can clearly see what they were doing in the video.”
Kinebrew opened the floor to questions from other residents in attendance, most of whom reiterated the same demands posed by Carroll’s supporters.
It wasn’t long before the meeting turned into an all-out venting session by residents who say they are frustrated with the behavior of police.
“I understand you guys are in your uniforms, and you have a job, but the first thing that you are is human, and the first thing that you have is your humanity,” said Germantown resident YahNe Ndgo Baker, who was brought to tears when she talked about Carroll’s arrest.
“I just don’t understand how you have 16 people, and no one amongst those people in that moment thought to say ‘Slow down! Stop that! That’s a person, a human being that you’re beating.'”