Jacob Giddings, parked at a gas station, was approached by Philadelphia Police Officer Tyree Burnett and told to get out of the car. When no reason was given, Giddings began recording on his phone.
Now, Giddings is suing as police bodycam footage showed Burnett deleting footage from Giddings' phone.
You can see local news coverage here:
Lawyer Lennon Edwards from Mills & Edwards LLP is representing Giddings in the case.
In an interview with CBS Philly he said:
"There's dishonesty happening here."
"There's tampering with evidence here and it kills."
"It harms. It harms the community."
The bodycam footage showed Burnett trying to force Giddings from the car.
Edwards pointed to the broader issue:
"While this happened in Philadelphia, this is something that happens all over the country."
"This exposes what's happening. It exposes a particular incident, but this is a prevalent issue."
"It's not just the officer who initiated this."
"It's a support system that he had. It's that the officers there said nothing and did nothing."
Giddings is suing for financial compensation, but Edwards is hoping for police reform as well.
The incident happened in March, but Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw just spoke about it this on June 2.
"We are aware of this incident."
"He's actually been on restricted duty since, I believe, April, but there is an active and ongoing Internal Affairs investigation right now."
Comments on YouTube called for Burnett to be fired.
Mel Tyson wrote:
"He should've been fired. He's dishonest to be a cop."
Thomas Colbert commented:
"I'm sure this was the first time he ever did this. No need to look at his past arrests."
Mr Scribbler posted:
"He need to be fired doesn't he need a warrant to go in their phone this is breaking protocol."
Creek Walker wrote:
"Many cops are quitting their jobs because of reforms."
"Cops; if we can't brutalize people, then we quit."
Daniel Hernandez posted:
"All they do in Philly is send him to another district. Trying to hide him"
Melkor Morgoth commented:
"Cmon this happens EVERYDAY ALL DAY all across America."
"A Citizen deletes evidence its a Felony but when cops do it they cant comment on pending litigation, see how that works?"
F. A. wrote:
"The cop will not be liable to imprisonment."
"Citizen's taxes will pay all the damages."
"Cop don't pay sh*t. But he'll be able to get re-hired in another state as a 'cop.' He shouldn't be just fired."
Unfortunately, this comment is statistically very true.
Law enforcement fired for misconduct can be re-hired by the same department and almost 25% are. The Washington Post reported in the decade between 2006 and 2016, 1,881 officers who were fired and 451 got their jobs back through arbitration lead by police unions.
Arbitration is the process of appeal in the case of a disciplinary action against an officer for violation of their department's policy. If an officer is suspended, terminated, or even just reprimanded, the officer can go to an arbiter, a lawyer who focuses on labor, to fight the consequences.
In 2020, arbitrators in Omaha, Nebraska decided to reinstate 3 of 4 officers involved in the 2017 death of Zachary Bear Heels. The mentally ill Indigenous man was handcuffed and seated on the ground when he was tased 13 times and repeatedly punched in the head during a wellness check.
Bear Heels was unarmed and was never accused of or charged with a crime. Despite video of the incident that led to Bear Heels death, no officers were convicted of any crimes and the reinstated officers were awarded backpay by arbitrators.
In many cases, it can take years to complete the process. If the officer wins the appeal, they can receive backpay for the entire time lost and then be re-hired.
Fired officers can immediately be hired by other departments as well.