“Usually when there’s liquor and immaturity involved, I would be mindful of that,” said Lt. Ray Evers. “At a bar, after midnight...It’s not like it was a tea party.”
When the reporter mentioned that Phillips had sustained complaints for physical assault, Evers responded, “Well, you have to put your hands on people in this job sometimes.”
Viteri confirmed that the man pictured on a Facebook page belonging to Wingrove was involved in assaulting him.
According to Wingrove’s Facebook page, he has been on force since 2006. Beforehand, he was a SETPA officer for three and a half years and served in the Navy in the 1990s.
The report charges Viteri with disorderly conduct-language, public drunkenness, and obstructing a highway. The disorderly conduct charge may be vulnerable to a legal challenge.
“This man should not have been charged under 18 Pa. C.S. 5503(a)(3) for disorderly conduct for use of bad language,” according to an email to PW from Mary Catherine Roper, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. “These types of citations have been illegal for decades, since the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1971 that a man could not be cited for wearing a jacket that said ‘Fuck the Draft’ in a courthouse: Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971). And, more recently, the PA Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that saying ‘fuck you, asshole’ to a police officer could not be the basis of a disorderly conduct charge. Commonwealth v. Hock, 728 A.2d 943 (Pa. 1999).”
Evers says that a disorderly conduct-language charge means that Viteri was arrested for the “volume” of his speech late at night in a “residential neighborhood” rather than its content. But the scene at 15 W. Girard was already loud. Randon Martin of Point Breeze was at the party and recorded a video of the confrontation. It is too dark to see anything, but there is a commotion taking place, and a voice that he identifies as a police officer saying, “You wanna videotape? Well you can go to jail too.”
“The amount of force employed to subdue an unarmed and unthreatening dreadlocked black man was entirely unnecessary and painfully familiar,” wrote Root. “I can't help but feel that if I (a relatively clean-cut white male) were [John], this never would have happened.”
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