Philadelphia police initially claimed that a man who ran away from them to avoid an arrest was electrocuted to death after he made contact with the train tracks inside the city’s subway system.
What they didn’t say was that a cop had tasered the man, which is what caused him to fall onto the tracks and die, according to two witnesses interviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
And they certainly did not mention how they confiscated a phone from a female witness who was recording the incident, only to destroy it.
A woman who said she witnessed Henry’s death said one officer told her his body camera had recorded the entire incident. She was near the stairs at the station, she said, but close enough to see sparks from the Taser.
“The handcuffs hit the third rail,” she said.
The woman said she got into an argument with the police, as did several other bystanders.
“There was a girl who was taking video. They went over to her and took her phone, and they trashed it,” she said. “The cops kept telling me, ‘You need to leave.’ I said, ‘I’m not going nowhere. You shouldn’t have murdered him like that.’”
And considering the incident took place inside a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority station, there should have been surveillance cameras that captured what really took place on July 24.
Except police are claiming the “incident took place on a part of the platform and tracks out of sight of SEPTA’s security cameras.”
The victim, Bryant “B.J.” Henry Jr, 25, had been selling bottled water outside the train station, a friend of his told the Inquirer.
Philadelphia police say they found crack cocaine on him but they don’t say how they discovered it on him. They only say they were arresting him outside the subway station when he broke free and ran into the station with one handcuff on his wrist.
He died when he “came in contact with the electrified rail,” according to the article published by the Inquirer.
When confronted by the new allegations from witnesses, a police spokesman went into spin mode.
Kinebrew declined to confirm or deny the witnesses’ accounts that a Taser was used. Henry’s death is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the homicide unit, he said.
“Let the investigators get all those facts,” he said, “get all the pieces together.”
However, he said, an internal review of the officers’ conduct was complete and identified no wrongdoing. He declined to release the names of the officers.
“If there are witnesses that have a different account than what we put out, we would invite them to come forward,” Kinebrew said.
The Inquirer reports that Philadelphia police are forbidden by departmental policy to use tasers on people for not complying. The policy states that tasers may be used if a person is “physically aggressive or assaultive, and there is an immediate likelihood that they may injure themselves or others.”