PHILADELPHIA – More than a dozen police officers will be taken off the street as authorities investigate a video showing three suspects being kicked, punched and beaten after they were pulled out of a car during a traffic stop, the mayor's office said.
"At a glance it does appear to be a bit beyond the pale," said Doug Oliver, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter. "Officers are not allowed to operate outside of the law."
The police department believes about 15 officers were involved in Monday night's arrests in the city's Hunting Park section, where police had been investigating a triple shooting, Oliver said. Some have already been taken off the street, while others still need to be identified, he said.
The three suspects were charged with criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment, according to court officials.
The video, shot by a WTXF-TV helicopter, shows three police cars stopping a car on the side of a road. About a dozen officers gather around the vehicle and pull three men out. About a half-dozen officers hold two of the men on the ground on the driver's side. Both are kicked repeatedly, while one is seen being punched; one also appears to be struck with a baton.
On the other side of the car, another group of officers can be seen kicking a third man who ends up on the ground.
Oliver said that, while the use of force appeared excessive, the public should withhold judgment until all the facts are known.
"We are not going to prejudge the situation based on the video," he said. "We all saw the video, but none of us was there."
Oliver initially said 15 officers had been taken off the street Wednesday. He later said about 15 officers were at the scene, but that the exact number identified and already off the street was unclear.
"One way or the other, everyone associated with this will be taken off the street," Oliver said. "The officers involved in this incident will be reassigned."
A message left with Lt. Frank Vanore, a police spokesman, was not immediately returned Wednesday morning.
The beating happened two days after the fatal shooting of a Philadelphia policeman, the third city officer slain on duty in two years.
Officer Stephen Liczbinski was shot with an assault rifle after a robbery in the city's Port Richmond section on Saturday. One man was fatally shot by police after the shooting, another was arrested Sunday and a third remains on the lam.