Philly Police Abuse Case Typifies All-Too-Common Misconduct by Nation's Prosecutors
Actions and inactions by Philadelphia’s District Attorneys Office that have blocked Sharif Anderson from his day-in-court for an arrest that took place over 1,200-days ago have elevated this Philadelphia police abuse victim into a prime example of what the phrase "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied" means.
During recent months Philadelphia prosecutors have repeatedy presented specious requests in court that have delayed trial dates for Anderson, who endured a brutal May 27, 2013 arrest when Philadelphia police confronted him as he videoed an incident of police brutality with his cell phone.
Those requests by prosecutors for delays in the Anderson case raise issues regarding adherence of prosecutors to a provision in the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers in Pennsylvania that states it is “not proper for a lawyer to routinely fail to expedite litigation.”
The Philadelphia District Attorneys Office declined requests for comments on issues raised in the case of Sharif Anderson. “Unfortunately, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office cannot comment…because the case is still active,” stated a self-serving email reply from the DAs Office.
Disturbingly, it is not unusual for prosecutors in Philadelphia and elsewhere around America to reflexively pursue obstructionist tactics that shield police in cases that contain documented evidence of improper and/or biased actions by police.
The failures of prosecutors to prosecute police misconduct was an underlying element in reports critical of abusive policing issued by the U.S. Department of Justice after high profile examinations of law enforcers in Baltimore, Maryland; Cleveland, Ohio and Ferguson, Missouri -- three cities that erupted in protests following incidents of abusive policing.
In Baltimore, for example, DOJ investigators faulted police for interfering with people who “lawfully record police activity.” That DOJ report also faulted Baltimore police for arresting people police deemed as being verbally “disrespectful.”
The Sharif Anderson's arrest for lawfully recording police activity began when police proclaimed that some young men had acted "disrespectfully."
Despite federal prosecutors documenting abusive and racially discriminatory misconduct by police in Baltimore, Cleveland and Ferguson, the DOJ failed to charge a single police officer, police supervisor or city official for the misconduct uncovered in those federal investigations.
In the Sharif Anderson case, requests for delay by local prosecutors included a profession of their need for more time to interview the Philadelphia policeman who three years ago confirmed that a fellow officer deliberately smashed Anderson’s cell phone with a baton during Anderson’s arrest.