Thursday, December 18, 2014

Video shows cop scuffle at South Street Oktoberfest

Two weeks after a video of a Philly cop punching a woman went viral, another video of a another Philly cop beating a man is burning up the Internet.

Video shows cop scuffle at South Street Oktoberfest

This post has been updated.

Two weeks after a video of a Philly cop punching a woman went viral, another video of another Philly cop beating a man is burning up the Internet.

In this case, though, the man on the wrong end of the officer's baton appeared to have instigated the incident. A poster identified only as tubezzz posted the video on LiveLeak.com a day ago with this introduction: "This idiot and his crew decided to spend South Street's Oktoberfest event spitting at passerby (sic), throwing beer at people, insitgating (sic) fights and generaly (sic) doing their best to ruin everyones (sic) day. play time (sic) was over when the idiot decided to slap a cop."

The video shows a bearded, apparently inebriated man arguing with bouncers during South Street's Oktoberfest party Sept. 29, while the man's ponytailed female companion repeatedly screams at her man: "Stooooop!"

An officer steps in to help, backing the agitated man up against the wall. Unfazed, the man turns his tirade toward the officer, shouting in his face and then smacking him with an open hand against the side of his head. The officer then drags the man down to the curb and bashes him about a dozen times with his baton, while two burly bouncers restrain the man and a passer-by stops to applaud. The man is left bleeding and temporarily unmoving on the ground, while his woman weeps over him. 

Police sources said the scuffle ensued after bouncers escorted away an unruly friend of the man seen hitting the cop in the video. Sources said the man in the video then walked up behind the bouncer, hurled a racial slur at him and punched him in the face, prompting the officer to get involved.

The whole thing lasts only about 16 seconds - but it's 16 seconds the Police Department doesn't need, after trying to restore their image and the public's trust since another beatdown went viral two weeks ago. By 3:30 p.m., more than 88,500 people had viewed the latest video on LiveLeak.com.

In the earlier videotaped beating, several cops were doing crowd control near the rowdy corner of 5th and Lehigh after the Puerto Rican Day Parade when several people sprayed an unknown substance on them. Highway Patrol Lt. Jonathan D. Josey II spotted reveler Aida Guzman walking away and punched her in the head twice from behind, sending her to the ground with a bloody lip. It's unclear from the video if Guzman threw anything. Commissioner Charles Ramsey later fired Josey and Mayor Nutter apologized to Guzman. A video on the incident has gotten nearly 1.5 million views on YouTube.

Lt. Raymond Evers, a police spokesman, today defended the cop in the Oktoberfest incident, saying: "The guy was highly intoxicated. What do you want?"

He added: "We’re fully aware of it. We’ve seen the video. Internal Affairs has been notified because of the use of force. It's kind of like old news."

Evers identified the man who smacked the cop as John Scrivano, 43, of Tredyffrin. He was charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest and related offenses for his tangle with the cop and terroristic threats and simple assault for his encounter with the bouncer.

Evers declined to name the officer involved, citing police policy. Court records, though, show the arresting officer was William J. Gress, a bike cop who often patrols the South Street beat. 

And that's interesting, because Gress has been sued and investigated several times, records show, for using excessive force - including one 2010 scuffle with a woman who said Gress slammed her head against a gated storefront, breaking her nose.

Evers said Gress remains on active street duty.

About this blog

Philly Confidential, which covers crime in Philadelphia and the suburbs, is written by Daily News staffers Dana DiFilippo, Stephanie Farr, Vinny Vella and Morgan Zalot.

E-mail tips to DiFilippo at difilid@phillynews.com and follow her on Twitter here.

E-mail tips to Farr at farrs@phillynews.com and follow her on Twitter here.

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