War on Drugs

Cops Forget Not Guilty Doesn't Mean Innocent, When It's One of Their Own

Cops accused of wide array of misconduct found not guilty, jurors said evidence was lacking



A jury of twelve found six former Philadelphia narcotics officers charged with racketeering, violating the civil rights of suspects, and other crimes, not guilty. Another former officer, Jeffrey Walker, turned state's evidence, and the case against the cops was built largely on his testimony and that of the officers' victims, identified as drug suspects by the nature of the officers work.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey fired the six officers, but now their lawyers are demanding the cops get an apology. Philly.com reports:

Jack McMahon, who represented Reynolds, blasted Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who fired the officers.

"The commissioner of our city owes these guys an apology," McMahon said. "When he says to these men that their badges should be burned and this is the worst case he's seen, when he didn't even know the facts, he is not a commissioner of these men. He's not a loyal guy at all. That's not a leader of men, and he should apologize to them."

The lawyer for at least one of the officers predicts they'll get their jobs back too because it appeared "the allegations were meritless." Philly.com reports the allegations:

In six weeks of testimony, government witnesses repeatedly said the squad conducted their duties like street thugs. They accused the officers of employing ganglike tactics like roughing up drug suspects, ignoring due process, planting evidence, pocketing seized money and lying on official police reports to cover up their crimes.

Targets who put up a fight, they said, were dangled over balconies, threatened with the seizure of their homes, held in hotel rooms for days, or beaten as the officers kept score on who could inflict the most debilitating injuries.

Prosecutors alleged that Police Department top brass never asked too many questions because the squad was one of the most productive on the force, often raking in large hauls of seized money and drugs.

The officers' supervisors testified on their behalf, saying they had never seen anything untoward, even on multiple raids they observed where some of the alleged misconduct took place. McMahon would probably consider them each a "loyal guy" and "leader of men."

Failing to find someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is not the same as a finding of innocence. Police officers, who can threaten to take people's property or life, should be held to a higher standard. There's even one being misapplied by the feds in the higher education system that might fit better.

The district attorney threw out more than 270 cases based on the cops' testimony after the FBI began investigating more than two years ago.