Philadelphia, PA – A judge dismissed charges against two former Philadelphia police officers who had been charged with an illegal stop and search in East Mount Airy.
Municipal Court Judge Thomas Gehret dismissed charges of tampering with the public record, obstructing the administration of law, false imprisonment, official oppression, and conspiracy that had been filed against former Philadelphia Police Officers Matthew Walsh and Marvin Jones, citing a lack of evidence, KWY reported.
The incident which resulted in the charges against the officers took place at about 10 a.m. on April 17, after they stopped 26-year-old Jordan Elijah for “apparently using narcotics.”
Officers Walsh and Jones searched Elijah and then put him in the back of their police car, handcuffed, while they searched his black Chevrolet Tahoe, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
When the officers returned to their vehicle, they drove forward about a block before they stopped and let Elijah out of their vehicle.
Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Tracy Tripp told the court that the officers had committed “official oppression” by detaining Elijah in the police vehicle for 20 minutes.
Tripp accused the officers of “cruising” with Elijah before they let him go.
“They’re disrespectful,” she said.
But Fortunato “Fred” Perri Jr., the attorney for Walsh, said that the officers had moved the police vehicle forward because they were blocking traffic and needed to let a UPS delivery truck pass them, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
After he was released by the officer, Elijah went to Philadelphia’s 14th Police District and complained about being detained and claimed that Officers Walsh and Jones had stolen pills from his legal Oxycodone prescription.
He claimed that the officers had found his prescription when they searched his Tahoe, and helped themselves to four pills.
However, when Elijah was cross-examined by Perri, he admitted on the stand that the officers had not actually found his Oxycodone stash in the Tahoe that day, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Philadelphia Police Internal Affairs Lieutenant Brian Hartzell testified that police did not find the allegedly missing prescription narcotics in the officers’ vehicle or lockers.
Perri argued to the court that the officers had a right to stop and frisk Elijah under the circumstances because Officer Walsh had previously arrested Elijah on gun and drug charges.
“Are we going to lock up every cop every time there’s a bad search?” Perri asked the judge. “We shouldn’t. This has got to stop.”
In September, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross suspended Officers Walsh and Jones for 30 days with the plan to terminate their employment at the end of the suspension, the WHYY reported.
Internal Affairs had investigated the incident and decided that neither officer had been in a position to observe Elijah using drugs at the time of the stop.
“The video demonstrated that the officers wouldn’t have been in position to observe whether or not the man was using narcotics or not at the time they approached him,” Philadelphia Police Captain Sekou Kinebrew said. “The video also revealed that the male citizen was cooperative. During the entire exchange and so this idea that he was refusing to show his hands is not substantiated, in fact contradicted by what we see in the video.”
It was based on that surveillance video that internal affairs concluded that Officers Walsh and Jones had falsified their report of the incident, WHYY reported.
After the judge’s ruling, Perri told reporters that the former police officers hoped to get their jobs back with Philadelphia PD.
“Ya know, the judge saw it for what it was fortunately, and hopefully these men can put their lives back together and get back in doing good police work,” he added.