Two Philadelphia police officers, Sean McKnight and Kevin Robinson, were arrested last week on charges of assault, criminal conspiracy, reckless endangerment, tampering with public records, making false reports, obstructing the administration of law, and official oppression. The charges stem from a May 2013 incident in which pulled over resident Najee Rivera while he was riding a motorized scooter. Rivera allegedly fled, and cops are accused of pursuing him without using their sirens or lights and then violently beating him after catching him.
The Philadelphia police accepted the cops' version of events, which accused Rivera of assaulting them and resisting arrest, and that would've been that but for his sleuthing girlfriend.
"As soon as I picked him up, we went right over there," [Rivera's girlfriend Dina] Scannapieco said. He was in a hospital gown covered in blood.
Eventually the couple made it to the 2700 block of North Sixth Street, where he had been arrested the night before—and where two officers were saying Rivera had thrown one of them into a brick wall.
The two, she said, saw where he was arrested.
"You seen all his blood all over the pavement," she said…
After seeing the blood, Scannapieco began asking questions.
She eventually found surveillance video, at a barber shop-auto detailing business on the block, that would exonerate Rivera and lead to the arrest of the officers who prosecutors say beat him without provocation and then falsely arrested him.
By August 2013, charges against Rivera were dropped and the cops began to be investigated. A year and a half later, after a grand jury found the bulk of their statements false and they face formal charges, the police department has suspended McKnight and Robinson with "intent to dismiss." Police say they could not have started an investigation against themselves immediately at the time absent an official complaint. That hurdle has now been removed, and the Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey says in hindsight police should have canvassed the area after Rivera's arrest.
At least one of the officers, Robinson, has been previously accused of police brutality while making a false arrest. He was sued in 2012 and the city settled for $125,000. He remained on the force.