Update: Four days after Police Commissioner Outlaw originally tweeted about the incident, she replied to her own tweet and provided a statement that cleared the officer of the accusations of using a racial slur.
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Last Friday, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw tweeted about “concerning behavior” regarding an arrest in which police officers surrounded a vehicle in a standoff with a suspect who was ultimately arrested for firearms and narcotics charges. Outlaw’s tweet was in response to a viral video on an anti-police Instagram page on which the person recording the video stated an officer used racial slurs when demanding the suspect comply with their orders.
In response to the viral video, Outlaw placed the officer on desk duty pending an internal affairs investigation, stating to the Inquirer that he was “allegedly caught on video twice saying a racial slur during an attempted arrest of a person who had a gun.”
(Viewer notice: the videos contain strong language).
Within the next 24 hours, tweets from throughout Philadelphia’s elected political class seemingly condemned the officer’s behavior. However, despite Outlaw publicly placing the officer under investigation and stating her concern over the behavior in the video, sources within the Philadelphia Police Department leaked body-worn camera footage to Broad+Liberty as well as journalist Ralph Cipriano that clearly shows the officer never used a racial slur in the encounter.
The same police sources also alleged that Outlaw and Internal Affairs leadership have reviewed the exculpatory bodycam footage from the officer and the others on scene within 24 hours from Outlaw’s tweet and have definitive evidence with a clear chain-of-custody, that the officer involved had never used a racial slur.
Regardless, Outlaw’s original tweets stay up, and she has yet to make any statements to clear the air – allowing this innocent officer to become the unwarranted face of racism in Philadelphia.
“We are aware of the recent video on social media that depicts a @PhillyPolice officer conducting a car stop of an individual who was subsequently found to be in possession of a handgun,” Outlaw announced Friday on Twitter. “The conduct displayed by the officers [present] is highly concerning, and I have ordered an Internal Affairs Investigation into the incident. All of the officers have been identified, and the primary officer has been placed on restricted duty pending the outcome of the investigation,”
– Commissioner Danielle Outlaw via Twitter.
The Philadelphia Police Department said the incident remains under review.
“To be clear, at no time did P/C Outlaw or the department state that the administrative investigation into this incident was initiated solely due to the alleged use of a racial slur,” Sgt. Eric Gripp said to Broad + Liberty reporter Todd Shepherd, by email.
“The totality of this vehicle stop remains under investigation by the PPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau,” Gripp continued. The purpose of this investigation is to ensure that the involved officers followed departmental policies while effecting the arrest of the suspect.
Gripp then noted that the suspect, Warren Martin-Williams, was arrested on three felony charges of aggravated assault, posession of a controlled substance, and a firearms charge (commonly known as VUFA) , along with six other misdemeanors.
On Friday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the allegedly incriminating video was “re-posted the video on an Instagram account called ‘phillyspotnews,’ which has 134,000 followers and appears to be associated with a local attorney.” In comparing the Instagram video with that from the police bodycam footage from the five officers on-scene — which officers are not able to tamper with — it is clear that the Instagram footage includes utterances and misapprehensions of the person recording it, which makes it appear that the officers used racial slurs.
Since the video has emerged, the officer highlighted in the Instagram video has received death threats on social media, as well as being condemned by Philadelphia City Council member Cindy Bass, Mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker, State Senators Sharif Street and Art Haywood.
Sen. Street did not respond to a request for comment as to whether he had seen a video version of the incident that positively showed a racial slur by the officer. Haywood and Bass responded, but only pointed Broad + Liberty to a version of a joint statement already delivered to the public (the statement being quoted further down in this piece).
On the evening of March 22nd, the five officers in question were patrolling the high-crime Germantown section of the city when they observed two vehicles running while parked, which could indicate any number of potential issues from car theft to narcotics activity. Upon investigating these vehicles, officers observed a large amount of crack cocaine in one, and a suspect in the other who was attempting to conceal a Ruger semiautomatic handgun in the other.
In reviewing the bodycam footage, not only can one hear that the officer never used a racial slur, but that the officers used incredible restraint – being in a position where deadly force is warranted, but not firing their weapons. This is because the suspect, of whom the officer in question had observed in possession of a handgun, was refusing to obey commands while driving toward the officers, striking their police car. The officer is heard on the body cam video yelling, “I’m seeing your fucking gun,” “There’s a gun on you. It’s right there in your fucking waist, in your fucking hand.”
Instead of shooting the armed suspect, the now-demonized officer bashed a hole in the driver’s window with his baton, using his Taser on the suspect instead of his firearm.
As if the Instagram video was edited or ends prematurely to paint the suspect in a better light, the video causing this firestorm ends just as the driver rammed his Dodge Durango into the police car, before backing over the sidewalk toward the other officers. The bodycam footage then shows the suspect driving in reverse down the block, striking a pole and parked cars into a nearby home before ramming another police car.
The suspect, identified as 30-year-old Warren Hakeem Martin Williams, was taken into custody for possession of a firearm, 34 grams of crack cocaine, marijuana, and paraphernalia, as well as injuring the officer in the second car who suffered chemical burns on his wrist when his airbag went off. The report by Cipriano revealed that Williams was involved in an incident in October 2022 where he fled police into the woods on Lincoln Drive from a vehicle where a AR-15, a handgun and his ID were found. At the time, Williams had an open arrest warrant for Maryland traffic violations.
Despite this officer’s work in bringing an alleged armed crack-dealer to justice, the city’s political establishment appear to be attempting to hang him out to dry.
“While reviewing the footage, law enforcement confirmed numerous code of conduct violations, involving actions that would needlessly instigate an escalation of engagement,” wrote Bass, Street, and Heywood. “We expect the Philadelphia Police Department to follow through with appropriate disciplinary action following the conclusion of the internal investigation,” the three politicians concluded.
Escalation? An armed suspect rammed a vehicle at officers and didn’t get shot. How was this not de-escalating?
“We have a City Council member and other officials engaged in attacking our Philadelphia Police Officers on the job.” said FOP Lodge 5 President John McNesby in a video statement recorded for Facebook. “Sometimes policing isn’t pretty, but the officer did do his job out there that day, and in fact we’ve found out that Council Member Cindy Bass has viewed that body camera last week on Friday which essentially clears that officer, but still released a statement attacking that officer and essentially praised the criminal…further widening the gap between the community and police.”
As of Monday, there have been no statements by Outlaw or the elected leaders exonerating the officer who never used the N-word on the videos we believe these leaders saw.
As Philadelphia suffers from three years of record crime rates? Why are the city’s collective leaders seemingly defending a career criminal over one of their own officers, and why the unfounded — and now disproved — accusation of a racial slur is seemingly worse than an armed narcotics suspect assaulting police officers and destroying property with a vehicle?
UPDATE: This article was edited from the original version to include comment from the Philadelphia Police Department, Sen. Haywood, and the outreach to Sen. Street and Councilwoman Bass.
UPDATE II: This article was edited from the original version to include comment from Councilwoman Bass. Communication difficulties prevented the timely publication of her comment, which was, “I stand by my statement,” referring to the joint statement with Senators Street and Haywood.
A. Benjamin Mannes, MA, CPP, CESP, is a Subject Matter Expert in Security & Criminal Justice Reform based on his own experiences on both sides of the criminal justice system. He has served as a federal and municipal law enforcement officer and was the former Director, Office of Investigations with the American Board of Internal Medicine. @PublicSafetySME
10 thoughts on “Ben Mannes: City leaders condemn police officer over false accusation”
It seems to have become a hallmark of so-called progressive political adherents and their appointees to never, ever admit when they’re wrong. Maybe all elected officials are like that, I don’t know. I live in Philly, where I’ve yet to hear it. Maybe I’m wrong. Personally, as a flawed human being, I would have greater respect for a so-called public servant who did admit a mistake. Am I reaching for the sky here?
As a resident of Philly for over 60 years I am thoroughly disgusted at the current assemblage of city leaders.I am very close to many,many LEO’s (past & present)and the retired ones are appalled and the active ones are confused as to where their support is.This incident is just another example of the poor leadership In Philadelphia today.
Reality doesn’t matter! It’s all about the narrative. They tried this in Detroit, during the summer of rage. The officers killed a guy who was trying to shoot an officer in the head. The media ran with narrative, police kill peaceful protester! Within an hour, Chief of police Craig, put out the video of the guy pointing a gun and pulling the trigger. The only reason that officer is alive, is because the gun malfunctioned. I credit him and Mayor Duggan, for Detroit not burning down.
Don’t like the actions, but she has since put up a tweet mentioning the video exonerated the officers in question and fully re-instated them. The article should be updated to reflect this fact.
Where is councilperson’s bass’ apology? Outlaw’s walked back statement is pathetic
It’s all too terribly emblematic of the sorry state of affairs in this city, commonwealth and country. Midget minded politicians who jump at any opportunity to curry favor with and validation from the “progressive” citizens who demand a social justice agenda are leading us down the path of ruin. The police are so handicapped that they have ceased to be an effective crime deterrent, civil authority force or investigative element in criminal justice. As these events multiply and amplify, we will find ourselves increasingly on our own for our protection and perhaps our society may even need to consider new living arrangements for a collective sense and guarantee of safety and security.
The knee jerk reaction of immediately condemning a police officer , without evidence seems to be the default position of the Philadelphia politicians .
The police commissioner has proved herself to be among them. She is incompetent and dishonest and should be fired . But this won’t happen for obvious reasons.
Thank You…please keep up.good work you do as retired Commander in department these officers need backing and more voices to back them up. I wonder if department will use that video as recruitment tool. They then winder why nobody wants job.
police are public employees who are hired to work in overwhelmingly highly paid work for which accredited educational and skills attainment are exactly zero and provided free or a deferred cost component of a contracted employment period.
Police are also the Number 1 most commonly encountered 1st contact with “The government” that Americans will encounter.
Not the DMV. Not the voting precinct employees. not the city council. The police.
For the risks and the highly important job that we demand of police, we provide them with EXCEPTIONAL legal rights that place them, fundamentally just walking around, *above the level of the normal ordinary citizen*
they need not be in uniform or officially on the job. Their oath gives them “super citizen” legal rights. this is true at the federal level (all 50 states) and plenty of states elevate that to “Super Duper Citizen”
with the embarassing salaries (for next to zero job requirements with all or most upfront costs written off and the legal protections and upgrades, the salaries are high, even for on-paper 70 hr work weeks)
with the structure of american law and jurisprudence, its completely reasonable to demand 100.00% absolute perfection in the job duties of every single police officer
in other words, throughout their entire career not a single exageration or white lie added to a police report.
not a single retroactive justification for a car that has been searched, not a single “gut instinct” but zero ojective evidence
not a single nap time during overtime…. not a single ticketed person let go for trivial reasons
not a single instance of corruption.
This is because, with a nation with 100,000+ active police and over 2 million arrests per year, even 1% rate of COMBINED workplace negligence, official misconduct, corruption, or abuse….
the rate of innocents seeing injustice witha mere 1% rate of bad behavior is ASTRONOMICAL.
this is always true, even when comparing to an enormously heinous bad crime
the comparison is not A or B
its “in order to get the bad guys we operate the system at a less than perfect level of certainty and constraint and in so doing we “overcollect” and capture a few innocents”
that type of dynamic is a civilization shattering moral betrayal.
if as a conservative you believe that female accusers of rape or sexual misconduct may occasionally lie or mislead and so the accused should be afforded all protections under the law….
if as a conservative you believe that even in the PUBLIC space, we should be afforded this right (which is not actually a thing)…..
then this dynamic, where injustice is the worst possible outcome, should be understandable