Sunday, December 28, 2014

Witness: SEPTA cops 'jumped' my friend on subway platform

SEPTA is conducting an internal investigation into the beating of an unarmed man by two officers at the 15th Street Station of the Market-Frankford line early Sunday. (Screengrab via Youtube video)
SEPTA is conducting an internal investigation into the beating of an unarmed man by two officers at the 15th Street Station of the Market-Frankford line early Sunday. (Screengrab via Youtube video)
Story Highlights
  • A video shows two SEPTA police officers punching an unarmed man Sunday.
  • One witness said officers "jumped" his friend and initiated the entire confrontation.
  • Three people were cited for disorderly conduct and another was arrested for resisting arrest.

Accounts greatly differ about what happened just prior to a six-second video that shows two SEPTA police officers punching and stepping on an unarmed man early Sunday morning at the Market-Frankford line's 15th Street Station.

One witness said it started when one of four friends confronted by police was ordered to put his shirt on. Troy Moorer, of West Philadelphia, who is friends with the man seen punched in the short video posted to Youtube, said the officers "jumped" his friend and initiated the entire confrontation.

"He had his shirt off coming down the steps," Moorer said of his friend he identified as "Mikey," who is part of a music group called "Great Outdoors" that had performed Saturday night at Ubiq on Walnut Street. "The cop yells over [from the opposite platform] and then automatically runs over and onto the other side, on our platform. [Mikey] says, 'OK, leave me alone. I put my shirt on.' And he started to walk away. He wasn’t resisting."

A SEPTA spokeswoman said Tuesday that the incident began with a disturbance outside the subway station on the street level — at 15th and Chestnut streets.

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  • "A large crowd rolled into the station," SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams said. "Whoever took the video, that's what they put up [on Youtube]. But it doesn't tell the whole story. I don't know what the whole story is, but I can tell you someone was arrested for resisting arrest."

    In all, three people were cited for disorderly conduct at the scene and another person was arrested for resisting arrest. The three people given citations were not identified by Williams, but Moorer said one was Mikey. The one man arrested is Thomas Smith, of Maryland, and Moorer identified him as the man in the video with long dreadlocks holding a phone up as Mikey is punched and stepped on.

    Moorer said Smith had a longer video of the incident that he recorded using his phone, but it was no longer on his phone when police released him from custody and returned the phone to him.

    "Tommy doesn't have a lock on his phone," Moorer said.

    Williams said an internal investigation by SEPTA police is underway and that surveillance video from inside the station doesn't give a good view of the beating.

    "It was not helpful in the sense there was a large crowd and the scuffle was not visible from that camera," she said.

    That doesn't match Moorer's account that only four friends had come to the station following the event at Ubiq that ended shortly before midnight. The young men were at the station to catch the last Market-Frankford train to West Philadelphia at 12:30 a.m.

    "It was just us four, so I don’t know what she’s referring to," he said. "I mean, there was a disturbance because people were like, 'what the hell is going on?'"

    Moorer said he hasn't heard from Mikey since the incident, but that his friend said he was going to a hospital to have a large bump on the back of his head checked out.

    Williams said the three people cited and Smith have been asked to come in and give statements for the internal investigation. Neither of the officers in the video has been identified.

    Here is the very short video, which shows the officers throwing Mikey to the ground, followed by a direct punch to the face by one officer and another officer stepping on Mikey a few times in a quick burst.


    Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or bmccrone@philly.com. Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.

    Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

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