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Police & Fire

Philly Police Officers Charged With Beating Autistic Man

Philadelphia Police Department Headquarters.
Philadelphia Police Department Headquarters. Photo Credit: Google Maps

Two Philadelphia police officers are facing charges for beating a man on the autism spectrum last summer, according to a local news report.

The two men charged are brothers: Inspector James Smith, 52, and former detective Patrick Smith, 53, News21 reports.

Both were in plain clothes and were off-duty during the time of the incident, the outlet says.

The pair are facing criminal charges for their alleged role in the pursuit and assault of a 27-year-old man with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.

On the morning of Aug. 19, the man was chased by the two off-duty officers in a car, into a shopping center at Fairdale and Knights roads in northeast Philadelphia, according to the district attorney's office.

Both officers have made statements that they identified themselves to the man as members of a neighborhood watch before the incident allegedly turned violent, authorities said.

"They are further alleged to have chased the victim on foot, grabbed him, pushed and slammed him into a wall and forced him to the ground,” Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said.

“This activity caused a black eye and abrasions on the back of the victims head, elbows and knees, in addition to the obvious distress."

The man called his mother just before attack, investigators said.

"The complainant, out of breath from running, called his mother. The complainant's mother heard a voice say, 'hold his legs,’” said Krasner.

Investigators say the brothers thought the man matched the profile of a suspect involved with multiple car break-ins, but internal affairs says that is not the case.

Detective Smith retired from the force in September and is now working as an agent with the Philadelphia Gun Violence Task Force. That organization has placed Patrick Smith on administrative duty.

Both Smith brothers were both arrested on Thursday, April 1.

"Both of these officers' misdemeanor charges over something like this when we're losing, you know, a record number of children on the street, a record number of people dying in shootings -- and this is what he's concerned about,” said Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby according to CBS Philly.

McNesby, himself has faced much criticism in recent years for his ties to white nationalist groups, the Trump campaign and racist comments.

"Obviously. It's very disturbing that anyone, in this case two fairly high-ranking police personnel, believes it's okay to act as vigilantes,” said Krasner.

The arrests were announced Friday, April 2, National Autism Awareness Day.

The Smith Brother's preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 3rd at 10 a.m.

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