Sexual Assault and Other Philadelphia Police Scandals
Philadelphia -- A January 7, 2014 police assault on Darrin Manning that resulted in the 16-year-old honor student's needing emergency surgery to repair a ruptured testicle, is outrageous but hardly unusual in this city.
That sidewalk assault on Manning began with a physical attack by a Philadelphia policeman with a record of citizen complaints. It was followed by separate abuse to his testicle by a policewoman. Doctors fear the damage to Manning’s testicle may leave the teen permanently sterile.
That double assault is consistent with an infamous history of brutality by police in Philadelphia. As far back as 1998, a report by Human Rights Watch said the Philly cops “have earned one of the worst reputations of big city police departments in the United States.” Things haven't changed much in the intervening years.
And, consistent with incidents of police brutality here, cops in Philadelphia routinely charge their victims with assault on police and resisting arrest – two of the criminal charges police slapped on Darrin Manning.
Fatal shootings and vicious beatings by Philadelphia police during the 1970s prompted an unusual 1979 federal lawsuit, the first-ever filed by the U.S. Justice Department charging a mayor and top city officials with openly aiding police abuse. Philadelphia police fatally shot 162 persons during the nine years before that federal lawsuit. Between 2007-2012 Philadelphia police fatally shot 65 people, with 15 of those fatalities coming in 2012.
Perhaps the worse brutality incident occurred in 1985 when Philadelphia police dropped a bomb from a helicopter on a house that they had under siege. That attack on a home known to have children in it at the time, killed five children, six adults and burned down 61 surrounding homes.
This legacy of police brutality in Philadelphia, spanning over a century, routinely includes high-profile assaults on teens, primarily blacks and Latinos. In January 2010, for example, a police assault on a teenaged student left that concert violinist beaten and missing dreadlocks which were torn from his head by officers. Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner defended a June 2012 vicious assault on a teen stopped for a minor traffic violation. That assault, Commissioner Charles Ramsey said, was as an appropriate use of force because that 18-year-old suspect had allegedly resisted arrest. In the Manning matter, Ramsey belatedly launched an investigation into the assault but only after news coverage of the incident and public complaints.