Mar 29, 2023 - News

Philadelphia officer cleared of using racial slurs

Illustration of multiple photos of a police hat on an evidence board with pins and string.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

A Philadelphia Police officer accused of using a racial slur during a recent arrest in Germantown has been reinstated.

Driving the news: An “extensive” review of body-camera footage showed that none of the officers involved in the arrest used racial slurs, Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a Twitter statement Tuesday.

  • The accused and unnamed officer was “returned to full-duty status” while internal affairs continues to probe the “totality” of the stop to ensure all officers followed department policies, Outlaw said.

Why it matters: The department's rank and file have repeatedly been accused of using heavy-handed and discriminatory tactics, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in payouts over the last seven years.

Catch up quick: The "phillyspotnews" Instagram account posted a video of officers surrounding a parked SUV last week and stated that an officer used a slur while trying to make an arrest. The video showed a tense encounter in which one officer pointed his gun at the driver’s window, repeatedly shouting that he could see a gun in the car and ordering the driver to open the door.

  • The cop used a baton to break the window before the video ended with the SUV ramming into a parked police cruiser.
  • Outlaw called the officers' conduct “highly concerning” when she announced the internal affairs investigation last week.

After the video went viral, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 president John McNesby defended the officer and criticized political leaders.

  • “Let’s stop coddling the felons out there, the gun-handlers, the drug dealers,” McNesby said in a video posted to Twitter. “Let the officers do their work.”

Zoom in: Outlaw said that her department took the allegation seriously, but it was “equally important to clear the names of our officers when they are accused of utilizing racial slurs.”

  • The mayor’s office tells Axios the body-camera footage isn’t being released since the IA probe into the officers' conduct is ongoing, along with a criminal case against the suspect.
  • Police charged the 30-year-old suspect with multiple counts, including aggravated assault and drug and weapons offenses.

The big picture: The city has shelled out almost $116 million in misconduct payouts since 2016 and recently settled for $9.25 million with protesters injured by cops during racial justice demonstrations in 2020.


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