Prosecutors will not be pursuing charges against a 16-year-old woman who police arrested following a Southwest Philadelphia skirmish with police on Monday in which an officer was filmed repeatedly punching the teenager.
Police charged the young woman, who authorities have not identified, with assault on police, disorderly conduct and related charges, but the city district attorney’s office said Tuesday it will not prosecute.
“After a review of the evidence, the office declined to issue any charges,” said Cameron Kline, a spokesman for the office.
Earlier, the Philadelphia Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit announced it was investigating the incident captured on video of a female officer swinging at the young woman while restraining her on the ground.
Authorities said police were responding to a fight involving dozens just before 3 p.m. on Monday around 54th Street after receiving a report over police radio that someone on the scene had a weapon.
Police found more than 30 people scuffling in the streets.
A 16-year-old girl clashed with a female officer trying to break up the brawl, and the officer pulled her down by her hair, jumped on her and punched her several times, according to the video recorded by onlookers. Those videos quickly ricocheted around social media.
“She could’ve easily de-escalated that, arrest her, charge her with assault and send her on her way. No need for her to throw her to the ground and pummel her like she did,” said Asa Khalif with the Pennsylvania chapter of Black Lives Matter.
According to a statement from police, the officer asked the teen to back away from the scene, but the girl refused, slapping the officer’s hand away. Police say the teen told investigators she was trying to interfere with officers attempting to arrest someone engaged in the fight.
But it quickly escalated. The teen struck the officer in the face, police said, knocking off the officer’s glasses and breaking them before the video recordings began.
“At that time, the officer began to struggle with the defendant and grabbed her by the hair, taking her to the ground,” according to a police incident report. “Both the officer and the defendant indicated that they both threw punches, striking each other while on the ground.”
Philadelphia police did not identify the officer, who has been taken off street duty pending the results of the internal investigation.
She and the teen involved sustained minor injuries.
Khalif said the police officer should immediately resign, saying her actions were counter to the department’s commitment to de-escalating violent incidents.
“Whaling away on her showed that the police officer was completely out of control at that point,” Khalif said. “It was not about maintaining order and de-escalation. It’s was about, ‘I’m gonna show you not to disrespect me.’”
“It definitely does not look good,” said Kelvyn Anderson, who leads the Police Advisory Commission. “I was troubled by what I saw. I definitely want to hear what everyone who witnessed the incident has to say about the full range of what happened, and then we’ll be in a position to make a judgment.”