Fired SEPTA police sergeant charged with assault for alleged baton beating of protesters

Protesters rally as Philadelphia Police officers and Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers look on in Philadelphia

In this June 1, 2020, file photo, protesters rally as Philadelphia Police officers and Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers look on in Philadelphia, over the killing of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

A former SEPTA police officer is facing multiple assault charges for allegedly bashing two people with a baton during protests of racial injustice and police violence in May.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner on Thursday announced the charges against former SEPTA police Sgt. Matthew Sinkiewicz, who was fired in mid-July.

The Bensalem man allegedly struck two protesters on May 30 during the first wave of demonstrations in the city in response to the killing of George Floyd by Minnesota police.

Both alleged victims required hospitalization for injuries including a concussion and a gash that required 10 staples to close.

“In order to earn the trust of the public, law enforcement must take an even-handed approach in applying justice, always,” Krasner said. “We must also acknowledge that uniformed officers of the law have a higher duty to build and earn trust with the public they are tasked to protect and serve.”

According to the allegations, Sinkiewicz hit two protesters multiple times on the head and body with his baton, without provocation, during a demonstration at the Municipal Services Building. The District Attorney’s Office said the then-officer submitted a report that did not honestly reflect the events that transpired.

Sinkiewicz faces two counts each of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, unsworn falsification to authorities, and official oppression.

The announcement comes more than three months after Sinkiewicz was fired by the transit police force for excessive force stemming from the incident.

“The civil disorder that occurred in Philadelphia on May 30 did not take away the responsibility of our member to follow the Transit Police rules and expectations for professional conduct,” said SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel. “Our response to resistance must be appropriate, and when it is not, the member will be held responsible.”

The case will be prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office Special Investigations Unit.

Sinkiewicz also found himself in hot water in 2016, when, with only about a year on the job, he was caught on a bystander’s camera slamming a handcuffed man to the ground who was being arrested for disorderly conduct, according to the Inquirer.

The sergeant did not have his body camera activated during the incident.

Nestel denounced the incident at the time and the police force disciplined Sinkiewicz, but he remained on the force.

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