Philadelphia Police Investigating Officers Caught on Video Beating Black Man

The Philadelphia Police Headquarters building in Philadelphia, pictured on April 10, 2015. The Philadelphia Police Department has launched an investigation into a video posted to YouTube that allegedly shows a suspect being beaten during an arrest. Matt Rourke/AP

Updated | The Philadelphia Police Department is internally investigating a group of police officers videotaped in an altercation with Tyree Carroll, a 22-year-old black man. Carroll was riding his bicycle and officers asked him to stop and get off the bike because he was riding the wrong direction on the street. He was later kicked, punched and Tased by a group of up to 12 officers. Carroll was called a "piece of shit" and a "motherfucker."

The president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 5, the Philadelphia police union organization, called the video an example of "good policing" in an interview with Newsweek, despite the internal investigation focused on the incident.

According to witnesses and Carroll, Carroll complied with the officers request to get off the bike and did not attempt to flee. He was arrested. The video shows Carroll being wrestled to the ground and punched by four police officers. Another group of police officers arrives bringing the total to about six officers. One officer is heard on the video saying, "You're getting the fucking Taser, here I come. You're getting the fucking Taser." Another officer is heard saying, "Tase the motherfucker." Carroll remains on the ground during this time.

Several more officers arrive, bringing the total to between 10 and 12. "You piece of shit," another officer is heard saying, after Carroll bit an officer. Carroll told political and social commentator Jasmyne Cannick he bit the officer because he was placed in a choke hold, which made his chest hurt. He was unable to breathe at the time, Carroll said. In the video, Carroll is heard saying, "I'm sorry, man," after the bite. Carroll is then allowed to stand and brought into a police car in handcuffs.

"I did view the video, and it shows that policing in Philly isn't pretty. He's fighting. He's waving his arms. He's biting the police officer at least twice. This is good policing. Their sole job in that moment was to police narcotics. You're allowed to use force at times," union president John McNesby told Newsweek in a phone interview. "Unfortunately, these guys were bit. You're allowed to use force to effect an arrest. They took narcotics off the street and took the man off the street."

The police department did not return request for comment as to whether officers have been suspended as a result of the video. McNesby said he "doesn't expect that to happen [but] if it does, we will stand by our officers."

The video was made public by Cannick on her website. The incident occurred in April, but the video came to light only this week. Cannick says there are two videos of the incident, but one was too dark to be published. The neighbors who took the videos have not been identified. Both were filmed on cellphones.

Carroll has been charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and possession of crack cocaine. According to Cannick, arresting officer John Ellis said he saw Carroll speak to several men who appeared to have conducted a drug transaction earlier in the day. Ellis said Carroll bit them while trying to break free. Police officers confirmed they punched and hit Carroll with billy clubs.

Carroll is scheduled to be arraigned on July 21 and is not eligible for bail due to a probation violation on a possession of marijuana charge. Carroll's family told Cannick he continues to suffer from injuries sustained during the altercation. He is being represented by a public defender.

"There is no justification that anyone could give other than that person is a racist for calling someone a 'piece of shit' while you are using excessive force when they are trying to comply," Cannick told Newsweek. "What is so damaging to people like myself, who try to be moderate, when we approach this situation, is that there are some good police officers who do good policing, there are a lot of them. I know them. But what is in that video is what gives cops a bad rep."

Following the publication of this story, the Philadelphia police department issued this statement to Newsweek:

On the evening of Wednesday July 8, 2015, the department was made aware of a video that was captured during an arrest which occurred on April 4, 2015. Once the department was made aware of this video, the Internal Affairs Bureau was immediately notified and provided the YouTube video link. An investigation into this matter is currently underway to determine all of the facts surrounding the incident as well as to identify all of the officers depicted in the video. However, there is some preliminary information that will be disclosed at this time regarding the arrest incident.

On 04-03-15 at approximately 11:44pm plainclothes officers assigned to the 14th district attempted to stop the defendant for a narcotics violation. As the officers stopped the defendant, he began to fight with the officers, biting one of the officers a total of three times (thigh, hand and arm). The defendant also bit another officer on the forearm during this arrest. Other responding officers arrived on location and were finally able to get the male into custody. 5.3 grams of crack cocaine was recovered from the defendant. The officers injured during this incident were transported to the hospital for the bleeding bite wounds that they sustained during the incident. The male was also transported to the hospital after intentionally striking his own head against the protective shield located in the police vehicle. Both the officers and the defendant were treated and released from the hospital without being admitted.

The information that we have at this time indicates that use of force reports were completed at the time of the incident, indicating the strikes and control holds attempted during the incident. At this time there is no indication that an electronic control weapon was used despite hearing the officer state "here comes the taser". However, Internal Affairs will examine the electronic control weapons of all officers involved in this incident prior to making that final determination. The entire incident will be reviewed for any departmental violations that may have occurred during the incident.