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Philly cops charged for brutal beating after security video surfaces

Cops brutally beat a man. Now, they might face the consequences.


Dell Cameron


Posted on Feb 9, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 2:25 pm CDT

A new video has surfaced in the case of a 23-year-old man who was beaten after a run in with two Philadelphia police officers almost two years ago.

Despite suffering orbital bone fractures and severe head lacerations, Najee Rivera was charged with aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, and filing false reports against the officers who attacked him. A surveillance video from a nearby store reveals for the first time the brutality of the officers, who now face charges for the beating and have been suspended from the police force.

The video, according to a CNN affiliate, was recovered by Rivera’s girlfriend and was the key piece of evidence in the grand jury investigation clearing him of charges.

On May 29, 2013, officers Sean McKnight and Kevin Robinson attempted to stop Rivera, who was riding a scooter. Rivera told a grand jury he became scared and tried to flee after the officers exited their cruiser holding batons. Unbeknownst to the officers, what happened next was captured in a video that seems to wholly contradict their original police report.

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According to the officers, Rivera reacted violently after being pulled over. He even grabbed one of the cops and “slammed him against a brick wall,” the officers said, which would have more than justified the use of force by police that led to his injuries. The report also indicates that Rivera was “throwing elbows” during the arrest.

However, the video apparently shows that none of the resistance reported by the officers actually took place. A grand jury found that Rivera showed no signs of aggression while laying on the ground and suffering a gruesome beating. After being cleared of charges, Rivera was awarded a $200,000 settlement for his pain and suffering.

“The video undermined every aspect of the officer’s account,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. He now plans to prosecute the officers for beating Rivera. “Simply put, no one—not even police officers—is above the law,” he said.

In a statement, Robinson’s attorney said his client “has been a well-respected and dedicated member of the Philadelphia police department for the past seven years.”  

“We look forward to trial,” McKnight’s attorney said, likewise characterizing his client as a good cop. “When suspects flee, they create risks for themselves, for the public, and for the officers who bravely pursue them,” he added.

Neither of the officers have the support of their department, it seems. “It is painful. It is embarrassing,” Chief Charles Ramsey said this week. “We have 6,500 sworn members. These guys do not represent the majority of police officers.”

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Feb 9, 2015, 11:00 am CST