Tag Archives: RT.com

Philadelphia Cop Charged With False Imprisonment After Wrongful Arrest of War Veteran

Update: Officer Kevin Corcoran was subsequently found guilty of Obstruction of Justice for his illegal arrest of Roderick King. Common Pleas Court Judge Robert P. Coleman then made sure everyone knew that he was serious about holding Philadelphia police accountable by sentencing Corcoran to one whole day in jail.

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by a reader who wishes to be identified by the pseudonym “Ghost,” via the CopBlock.org submissions page. The article was originally published at RT.com on March 13, 2014 under the title, “Philly Cop Charged After Wrongfully Arresting War Vet.”

A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania police officer who has been investigated by internal affairs a dozen times since 2009 has been suspended after being charged this week with false imprisonment and other counts related to a March 2013 incident caught on film.

Officer Kevin Corcoran, 33, was suspended on Wednesday morning this week after being faced with multiple counts stemming from an altercation last spring in downtown Philly in which he handcuffed a local man, hauled him into his SUV and drove him around the city for roughly 16 minutes before releasing him without charge. The first moments of the incident were captured by the cell phones of eyewitnesses and uploaded to the internet last year.

Corcoran turned himself in to the Philadelphia Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit early Wednesday and was promptly stripped of his gun and badge before being processed that evening with unlawful restraint, false imprisonment and official oppression — all misdemeanors — as a result of a nearly year-long probe launched by city officials to investigate the officer’s handling of an incident between an Iraq War veteran and himself that occurred at around 2 a.m. last March 31.

On Wednesday, the Office of the District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia issued a statement to say that the 11-month joint investigation conducted by the DA’s Special Investigations Unit and the Philly PD’s Internal Affairs Department had concluded with charges being filed against Corcoran, a nine-year veteran of the force.

The DA Office’s statement largely corroborates witness accounts and what can be clearly seen in the YouTube video uploaded last year: Corcoran was on duty at the time of the incident when, provoked by comments made by a group of people on a street corner concerning his driving, he exited his vehicle, approached one of the individuals and unlawfully detained them.
According to the official statement, Corcoran first slapped the cellphone out of the hands of one of the witnesses and then approached the victim — Roderick King, formerly of Philadelphia — and barked “Don’t fucking touch me” at the man as he inched closer.

“Corcoran continued to walk toward the young man who was backing up with his hands out in front of him making no contact with the officer,” the statement reads. “Corcoran then pushed the young man, grabbed him by the chest, threw him against the side of his police vehicle, handcuffed him and threw him into the back of his vehicle.”

“Corcoran then sped off with the victim in the back seat,” the statement continues.

Attorneys for King filed a $1 million lawsuit against the city shortly after that altercation occurred, and at the time accused Corcoran of unlawful search and seizure, assault and battery and multiple violations of constitutional rights. Corcoran was placed on desk duty pending the results of the lengthy investigation, but the city elected to press charges against him only this week after completing their probe.

The suspension, handed down by Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, was made with intent to dismiss the officer.

“It’s good to see the city is finally, after 11 months, firing [Corcoran] for something that was clear as day to see,” King attorney Kevin Mincey told the Inquirer.

“It’s a scary thing when the people who are sworn to protect and serve just take liberty with their power and can throw you in the back of a car take you away and no one responds,” Mincey added to a local Fox affiliate. “It just shows the importance of recording your interactions with police officers you have a right to do it. Sometimes it’s the only way to get action to be done.”

But as the local media was quick to point out, last March’s incident is actually but one of many in which Corcoran was accused of unlawful conduct. Philadelphia Inquirer staff writers Mike Newall and Aubrey Whelan dug deep to expose more of the officer’s sordid past this week, and reported that the Internal Affairs Division conducted 12 investigation into Corcoran since he joined the force, including six just in the year 2009.

Sam Wood, a reporter for Philly.com, found yet more details about some of the most extreme of the alleged incidents:

“Previously, Corcoran was sued in US District Court for allegedly entering a home on 1630 S. Taney Street without a warrant in Nov. 2008 and beating up a resident, leaving the man with two broken vertebrae, a broken nose and a broken eye socket,” Wood wrote. One year later, he was again sued in federal court, this time “for the Nov. 2009 beating of a South Philadelphia man who Corcoran and another officer ‘kicked, stomped, beat, punched and otherwise assaulted’ leaving the man with broken bones and requiring stitches.”

Both of those cases were dismissed, Wood wrote, but a 2011 case in which Corcoran allegedly “violently man-handled” an individual after arresting him without probable cause remains open. Two other civil lawsuits against Corcoran have also been filed since 2009, but were settled for an undisclosed amount a year later before trial, Wood wrote.

According to the local Fox station, counsel for King believes the charges brought Wednesday may never have materialized if it wasn’t captured by eyewitnesses. King, a US Air Force veteran, left Pennsylvania following the events of last March, his attorneys said.

– Ghost

After $200K Settlement, Indianapolis Cops Instructed Not To Interfere With Citizens Filming Police Activity

 The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by a reader going by the pseudonym “Ghost,” via the CopBlock.org submissions page. The post was originally published at RT.com under the title, “Indianapolis Cops Must Allow Citizens to Film Police Activity After $200K Settlement.

The terms of a recently settled lawsuit in Indianapolis, Indiana will require the city’s police force to remind officers that it’s legal for civilians to videotape on-duty cops, but it will also cost the department more than just that.

In addition to having to adopt an official policy recognizing the right for citizens to record law enforcement officials, the City of Indianapolis is also cutting a $200,000 check for a local man who was arrested and injured by police in 2011 after he refused to stop filming a nearby arrest.

Willie King was watching Indianapolis police officers arrest a young man in his neighbor’s driveway three years ago this month when he decided it would be a good idea to grab his cellphone and start recording. The cops weren’t too keen about being caught on film, however, and ordered King, then 66 years old, to hand over his phone.

“Sir, you know that if he resists any more they can take your phone as evidence,” an officer was caught saying, according to transcripts published this week by local news network WISH-TV.

“I don’t give a [expletive] what you do, y’all just don’t harm him,” King responded.

When King refused to stop recording from his neighbor’s porch, he was tackled to the ground, arrested and charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

King was ultimately found not guilty of those charges, but turned around and filed a civil suit against the city over alleged First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations.

That case was scheduled to go to trial starting March 10, but it’s now been reported that the city decided to settle this past January.

King is being awarded $200,000 from the city as part of that settlement, but the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is also being forced to institute a new policy prohibiting police officers from bothering with eyewitnesses who are recording their actions.

According to excerpts of the policy published on Thursday by WISH-TV, local law enforcement officials have 60 days to adopt a policy that states “police officers should not interfere with civilians who are observing or recording their actions by video or audio in public, so long as the civilians maintain a safe and reasonable distance if necessary from the scene of a police action, do not physically interfere with the officers’ performance of their duty and do not represent a physical danger to the officers, civilians or others.”

“Willie King was wronged when the officers stopped his videotaping and took away his cellphone,” King’s attorney, Richard Waples, was quoted as saying by The Indiana Lawyer website. “We want to make sure that in the future police officers understand that people have the right to video record their actions.”

“We thought it was important in this case, not to just try to get compensation from Mr. King which we were able to do, but also to get the police department to realize, hey, they need to train their officers, and say you can’t interfere with people’s rights to record and observe what you’re doing in public,” Waples told the network.

According to Marilyn Odendahl at The Indiana Lawyer, Waples added that the recent victory “secures the right of all citizens to observe and record police officers’ public actions.”

Previously, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit — whose jurisdiction includes Indiana, among other states —acknowledged that “The act of making an audio or audiovisual recording is necessarily included within the First Amendment’s guarantee of speech and press rights as a corollary of the right to disseminate the resulting recording.”

“Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply,” reads a portion of the American Civil Liberties Union’s official website.

– Ghost