PHILADELPHIA – The actions of a throng of police officers shown on a videotape kicking and punching three shooting suspects during a traffic stop were inappropriate, Mayor Michael Nutter said Thursday.
A sergeant and five officers have been removed from street duty as authorities investigated the footage. More than a dozen officers were involved, and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said investigators were having the videotape enhanced to try to identify how many were actually striking the suspects. Information will be sent to prosecutors, who will determine whether to press charges.
"It absolutely shows inappropriate behavior," Nutter said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America." "There is a way to take people into custody ... and there (are) not acceptable ways of taking people into custody."
Police stopped the suspects' car while investigating a triple shooting Monday night. No weapons were found in the car or on the suspects, Ramsey said, but officers said they had seen them shoot three people on a drug corner moments earlier.
The video, shot by WTXF-TV from a helicopter, showed three police cars stopping a car on the side of a road.
Officers gathered around the vehicle and pulled three men out. About a half-dozen officers held two men on the ground on the driver's side. Both were kicked repeatedly, while one was punched; one also appeared to be struck with a baton.
On the other side of the car, the video showed, more officers kicking a third man who ends up on the ground.
The three suspects — Dwayne Dyches, Brian Hall and Pete Hopkins — were each charged with attempted murder in the shooting, police said.
The beating happened two days after the fatal shooting of a city officer, the third killed on duty in two years. Ramsey said officers have been on edge since Officer Stephen Liczbinski was killed, but that they still need to maintain a high standard of conduct.
Liczbinski was shot with an assault rifle after a robbery Saturday. One suspect was fatally shot by police soon after, another was arrested Sunday and a third was captured late Wednesday.
"There nothing our policy that would allow kicking individuals and taking them into custody in the manner I saw on the tape," Ramsey told "Good Morning America."
D. Scott Perrine, an attorney for the three men seen in the video, has said that, as terrible as the officer's death was, it does not excuse what police did to the suspects.
Dyches had a welt on his head the size of a baseball, and one of his legs was seriously injured, Perrine said. He said he didn't know the extent of the other men's injuries.
The mother of one of the suspects said she was outraged.
"I'm horrified to see that our city cops would beat some human being like they did, like a gang-style fight," Leomia Dyches said. "I'd like to see them tried for what they did."