A Philadelphia police officer has been suspended and criminally charged after he allegedly yanked a war veteran off a Center City corner, handcuffed him and drove him around in his SUV, irked that the man and his friends had criticized his driving.
The 16-minute saga started when Officer Kevin Corcoran, 33, a nine-year veteran of the force, was patrolling in his SUV near 13th and Lombard streets at about 2 a.m. last March 31, according to the District Attorney's Office. A pedestrian, part of a group of people on the sidewalk nearby, yelled to Corcoran that he'd made an illegal turn, prompting the officer to get out of his car and yell at them, according to the D.A.'s Office.
As onlookers began recording the incident on their cell phones, Corcoran allegedly slapped a device out of Roderick King's hands and confronted him, saying: "Don't f***ing touch me." The officer allegedly kept walking toward King, "who was backing up with his hands out in front of him making no contact with the officer," the statement from the D.A.'s Office said.
Corcoran then pushed King, grabbed him by the chest, threw him against the side of the SUV, handcuffed him, hurled him into the back of the car and then sped away with him, the D.A.'s Office said. The whole incident was caught on tape. King was not the person who criticized Corcoran's driving.
Corcoran drove King somewhere off Broad Street, telling him he was under arrest for public intoxication, the D.A.'s Office said. But Corcoran "did not prepare any of the required police paperwork for a public intoxication arrest, had no evidence that the victim was intoxicated, and was in fact driving in the opposite direction of the 17th police district where Corcoran was assigned," the D.A.'s Office said.
King then told Corcoran that he was an Iraq War veteran and had never been arrested before. That prompted Corcoran to stop at 13th and Rodman Streets, uncuff King and release him without charges.
Corcoran turned himself in to Internal Affairs this morning. He is charged with false imprisonment, obstructing administration of law and official oppression. Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey has suspended Kevin Corcoran for 30 days with the intent to dismiss.
King, of Lansdale, sued the city over the incident in May, seeking more than $1 million in damages for civil-rights violations.
The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the Philadelphia Police Department over citizens' right to record police activities. The lead plaintiff in the suit filed last year was a Temple University student and photojournalist who police arrested for disorderly conduct in January 2011 when he recorded the police response to a rowdy crowd at 15th and Market streets.