A bystander’s video of Chester City police beating a man following a traffic stop has prompted an investigation by Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan’s office.
During the arrest, Chester City police allege Walter Moat became violent and reached for a stolen gun. They have charged Moat with 12 offenses, including driving with a suspended license and four counts of simple assault, according to an affidavit filed by Sgt. Steven Gretsky.
A cellphone video of part of the arrest show several officers restraining Moat, using a stun gun and and beating him while he lies on the ground. At points, he resists and seems to be trying to stand up. The video does not show the initial stop and some of the altercation takes place out of frame.
In a press conference earlier this week, Whelan said he plans investigate the arrest.
“From my review, at this point in time I don’t see excessive force in that video,” said Whelan. According to Whelan’s office, five or six officers were involved in the arrest.
Taniece Day, a friend of Moat’s, said she witnessed the arrest and recorded some of it with her cellphone. “He was laying on the ground, and they was constantly beating him. Whole face was bloody. And they just kept hitting him,” she said.
She said Moat has always been “respectful” and characterized him as nonviolent.
Moat is currently held in the hospital wing of George W. Hill Correctional Facility.
He is represented by James, Schwartz and Associates, PC.
“The goal is to make sure that his constitutional rights are not being violated,” said lawyer Jonathan James.
After visiting him in jail, James said he did not have an official list of injuries but that Moat sustained two black eyes, a concussion and some corneal abrasions during the arrest. Moat would not comment on whether his client has a history of mental illness.
Day said Whelan’s announcement about the video made her “sad.”
She said she did not see a gun on Moat. The district attorney is “basically not doing anything,” she said.
Chester City police have said that Moat’s arrest record dates back to 1985, a fact Day said is misleading.
“You’re talking about something that happened a long time ago,” she said. “We’re talking about now.”
Moat’s attorneys believe other videos of the incident exist and are in the process of obtaining more footage from bystanders. More video evidence could shed light on the beginning of the confrontation, said James.
Representatives from Whelan’s office said an investigation could take a couple of weeks. A preliminary hearing for Moat is scheduled for Aug. 12, James said.