An Internal Affairs investigation has been launched over a YouTube video that shows a 29-year-old man getting walloped repeatedly by a baton-wielding cop in West Philadelphia on Friday.
Police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore said last night that Internal Affairs investigators are examining the video, which shows two and a half minutes of an encounter that cops had with Askira Sabur outside a takeout shop at 55th Street and Lansdowne Avenue. (Click here to view the video.)
Vanore said Sabur was among a group of men who were asked by a pair of patrol cops to leave the corner. Sabur instead allegedly knocked one of the cops to the ground, he said, although that portion of the encounter is not shown on the YouTube video.
Sabur's attorney, Evan Hughes, said Sabur didn't knock down the officer. "This guy was standing on the street corner, talking to his cousin," he said. "They tell him to get off the corner, and one cop pushes him on top of another cop."
From there, the incident appeared to turn ugly. One officer is shown on YouTube repeatedly striking Sabur in the head, back and arms while a crowd of onlookers howls in protest. The same officer is shown pulling out his handgun and briefly gesturing towards the crowd with the weapon before shoving it back into his holster. At least three other cops are shown hovering around Sabur during the incident.
Vanore said Sabur bit another officer and tried to grab the cop's gun during a brief struggle; he was later charged with aggravated assault and related offenses. There was likely more to the story, Vanore added, than what was shown on the brief video.
Sabur suffered a broken arm and needed numerous staples to close gashes on the back of his head after his encounter with police, his attorney said.
"If he tried to grab a gun, they would have shot him," Hughes said. "They're trying to justify this, and come up with things that he did not do."
Sabur, of Conestoga Street near Media, was sentenced to five years of probation in 2002 on an attempted burglary charge, court records show.
"He's not a bad guy," Hughes said. "They could have killed him. Lucky for him they didn't, but they certainly got close."