Guardsman says cops beat him for filming melee during arrest

A young National Guardsman said several Philadelphia police officers broke into his Kensington home Tuesday night and assaulted him after he videotaped a wild melee outside his window.

Angel Rodriguez, 19, a guardsman who is slated to ship out to Afghanistan in November, received a sprained ankle and facial bruises when at least five cops allegedly barged into his home and confiscated a video camera he used to film cops and neighbors fighting, his family said. He was taping what he thought was police brutality.

Rodriguez's claims have sparked a serious investigation into what happened on Lippincott Street near Kensington Avenue, when a simple arrest quickly escalated into a violent, chaotic scene for cops and residents alike.

The tangled tale began about 8:25 p.m., when two police officers stopped a 20-year-old man on Lippincott Street on suspicion that he was involved with narcotics, said Internal Affairs Chief Inspector William Colarulo.

A quick check showed that the suspect, Michael Pipkin, was wanted for drug and drunken driving charges dating back to last May.

When the officers attempted to arrest Pipkin, he tried to break free and a struggle ensued, Colarulo said.

One of the officers tried to use his baton to restrain Pipkin, but Pipkin grabbed it and began striking both officers, Colarulo said. At this point at least five cops noticed Rodriguez at his second-floor window taping the incident, his family said.

"They told him to bring the camera down, but he said no," said Clarisa Sanabria, 33, Rodriguez's stepmother. "Then five cops ran in here and upstairs without warning."

Last night, Rodriguez was too tired from the ordeal to talk, but earlier in the day he recounted the story to NBC 10.

"The one cop came and punched me in my mouth, then they threw me on the floor," Rodriguez said. "After they were done smashing the camera, then they hit me with the nightstick."

Several Internal Affairs investigators went to Lippincott Street yesterday, and Chief Inspector Colarulo returned again last night.

"There's going to be a thorough investigation," Colarulo told Rodriguez's family.

"There will be no cover-ups."

Sanabria called her stepson a good kid who joined the National Guard to get an education and see the world. *