Two Philadelphia officers facing brutality charges, dismissal in beating

Listen
 Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and District Attorney Seth Williams talk about case Thursday. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and District Attorney Seth Williams talk about case Thursday. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Two Philadelphia police officers have been suspended and could lose their jobs for allegedly beating a suspect in 2013.

The officers face a range of criminal charges, and the city has already settled a lawsuit with the beating victim.

Officers Sean McKnight and Kevin Robinson falsified their official report, saying Najee Rivera resisted arrest, according to Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. Surveillance video shows them knocking Rivera off his scooter and attacking him, Williams said Thursday.

“First one held him against the wall while the other beat him with a baton. Then they held him on the ground and beat him some more,” Williams said. “There’s no doubt the blows were connecting because the video had audio and you can hear Mr Rivera from the time he fell off his scooter writhing in pain and screaming for help.”

So much blood was on the ground, Williams said, another officer thought Rivera had been shot.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says the excessive force is unacceptable.

“Officers need to be professional at all times, period. If they have to use force to make an arrest, use only force necessary to effect an arrest. The law allows you to do that, and we certainly don’t want cops getting hurt,” Ramsey said. “This isn’t an issue of use of force in making arrest. This was just a misuse of force period, from beginning to end.”

Williams said his office will continue to be vigilant to make sure those entrusted to protect the public do not abuse their power.

“The same rules should apply to everyone — rich or poor, black or white or a sworn officer with a badge,” he said.

A police brutality suit brought by Rivera against the department has already been settled for $200,000.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.