PHILADELPHIA — A police sergeant and five officers were pulled from street duty Wednesday as city officials investigated television footage showing a group of officers kicking and punching three shooting suspects.
More than a dozen officers were involved, but Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said investigators were having the videotape enhanced to help determine how many of them were actually striking the suspects.
Any information police find will be sent to prosecutors, who will determine whether charges are warranted.
"We certainly are concerned about what we saw on the tape," Ramsey said at a news conference. "The behavior that at least was exhibited on the tape is unacceptable."
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.
Video shows officers kicking men
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.
On edge after officer's death
The beating happened two days after the fatal shooting of a city officer, the third killed on duty in two years.
Ramsey said that officers have been on edge since Officer Stephen Liczbinski was killed, but that they still need to maintain a high standard of conduct.
"We do expect them to maintain a level of conduct on the street that is beyond reproach," the commissioner said. "The sergeant should have taken some kind of action to intervene."
Liczbinski was shot with an assault rifle after a robbery on Saturday. One suspect was fatally shot by police soon after, another was arrested Sunday and a third remains on the lam.
No excuse, suspects attorney says
D. Scott Perrine, an attorney for the three suspects, has said that, as terrible as the officer's death was, it does not excuse what police did to the three men.
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. She added, "I'd like to see them tried for what they did."
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