Philadelphia police officers are constantly defending themselves on the wrong side of the law. Most recently, Samuel Allen, Santos Higgins and Kevin Corcoran, formally respectable cops, have each drawn lawsuits for their wrongful encounters with the public. Their actions have raised the awareness and garnered the attention of the local media. “Nothing new,”perhaps, would be the cynical response of a great number of residents in the area. But, when the continence of the misuse of power goes awry, there should be consequences. That is, if we are to live in a free society.
A photojournalism student, Ian Van Kuyk, an attendee of Temple University, has filed a lawsuit against two Philadelphia police officers. Allen and Higgins, the officers now with formally filed accusations in Common Pleas court, arrested Van Kuyk in his neighborhood of Point Breeze, two years ago, in March of 2012. The then 24 year old Temple student was taken into custody by the officers, after his refusal to stop video recording their arrest of his neighbor. He and his girlfriend, present at the time, were both charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice. In Nov. 2012, they were both found not guilty.
The couple is on the offensive, along with the ACLU — now Philadelphia police have multiple charges filed against their officers for their individual wrongdoings, and in the ignoring of a directive issued within the past two years by the city’s Police Commissioner, Charles H. Ramsey. Through his allowance of the video recording of all officers while on duty, it has ultimately led to these officers being sued.
Another case is one against Philadelphia police officer Kevin Corcoran. At 2 AM, in April of 2013, near the intersection of 13th and Lombard, Corcoran was driving the wrong way down a one-way street. He was heckled by passers-by, prompting him to stop and leave his vehicle. The group of pedestrians pulled out their cell phones. Corcoran, it is shown, stomped up to the civilians — one, an Iraqi war veteran — and shouted at them. With the multiple angles of video, now made public, it can be seen that the officer was unreasonably enraged, and at nothing in particular. As the encounter progressed, Corcoran shouted out that he was not be touched. One of the males, much taller than the officer, was then forcibly apprehended, cuffed, and shoved into the back of Corcoran’s SUV. The rest of the onlookers kept recording the arrest with their mobile phones.
The arrested man, Roderick King, was driven by Corcoran to a side street. There, as an innocent bystander in the back of a police car, King pleaded his case, insinuating that he had done nothing wrong. He also told the Philadelphia police officer that he was a war veteran, having served his country in Iraq. Corcoran then released him — although never filing any paper work for any part of this interaction.
This faulty arrest is only one incident in a string of misbehavior and abuses of power. In 2006, Corcoran was investigated by the Internal Affairs division nothing short of six times. In Nov. 2008, he was sued for entering a home without a warrant; that resident suffered two broken vertebrae and a broken nose, at the hands of Corcoran. A year later, Corcoran was sued for beating up a South Philadelphia man. Decidedly, the accusations and charges filed against him over the recent years seem to be endless. But Corcoran has never been formally charged. Until now.
On desk duty for the previous 11 months, Kevin Cocoran is now charged with three misdemeanors for his unlawful demonstration with a war veteran of this country’s Navy. Having been falsely arrested, and voluntarily displaced for the fear of his safety, King is seeking up to $1 million in damages. Quite possibly the final chunk of change at the expense of this brutal officer.
While first responders of the Philadelphia police conduct their public service, is it their responsibility to do so within the confines of the law in which they have pledged to represent. Due to the utter disregard of these aforementioned instances, the public is less safe where they are supposed to be protected. Thankfully, the rights of the populace are still upheld through citizen activism and the video recording of interactions with police — which is supposed to be serviceable and helpful. If this is not always the case, then what is helpful is to be in the possession of working a cell phone, preferably one with a video recording device. If nothing else, it asserts one’s freedom from wrongdoing, even as it comes at the hands of the very people expected to protect and serve the citizenry.
By Bryan William Myers