We already know cops can’t be trusted. We already know they get away with crime on a daily basis. We already know they are above the law.
That’s been proven time after time by “investigations” that go nowhere.
But despite knowing all that, the decision this week from federal and local prosecutors not to criminally charge a group of Philadelphia cops accused by several store owners of slicing wires to their surveillance cameras before robbing them of cash – including one cop accused by several women for sexually assaulting them – ranks up there with the Kelly Thomas verdict as far as blatant injustices go.
At least the Fullerton cops who killed Thomas were criminally tried. And at least they are no longer cops. At least for the time being.
But the Philadelphia Four as we will refer to them, Tom Tolstoy, Jeffrey Cujdik, Richard Cujdik and Robert McDonnell Jr., will most likely be back on the streets after four years of desk duty, so you know they’re itching to get their hands dirty again.
The officers – who were at the heart of a scandal that shook the department five years ago – now face possible disciplinary action from the Police Department. But it is likely they will soon be placed back on the street and even awarded lost overtime pay, according to sources with knowledge of department policy.
“The prosecution has been declined by the United States attorney and the District Attorney’s Office,” Ramsey said in an interview. After prosecutors dropped the case, he said, the department began an internal review to determine whether the officers had violated police protocols.
Internal Affairs “sustained several of the allegations, and we are in the process now of going through the charging process – the internal review for discipline against the accused officers,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment Thursday.
John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, lauded the decision not to bring criminal charges against the officers.
“There’s nothing there that’s criminal,” he said of the allegations. “Nothing here is that drastic, where they should have been off the streets for five years.”
During their reporting, Laker and Ruderman uncovered allegations against officers that included committing sexual assaults, disabling surveillance cameras during drug raids to hide their misdeeds, and filing fraudulent warrants. During several raids, the police allegedly stole thousands of dollars in merchandise and money from small retailers.
As a result of Laker and Ruderman’s investigation, hundreds of drug cases in Philadelphia have been re-examined, and in some cases thrown out. In addition, the Philadelphia police launched a task force, which includes members of the FBI, the force’s Internal Affairs division and the city Inspector General’s Office, to investigate the allegations.
Five of the officers involved officers remain on desk duty; more than 15 civil suits have been filed in federal court against members of the force.
There are a thousand more adjectives to describe yesterday’s astounding news that no criminal charges will be brought against the cops who terrorized 22 Philly bodega owners.
But you need to understand this:
The shop owners were all legal immigrants. None had criminal records. Nor had they ever met – they hailed from four corners of the city and spoke different languages. Yet the stories they told Daily News reporters Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman were identical:
A Philadelphia plainclothes narcotics squad had barreled into the immigrants’ bodegas, guns drawn. They had cut the wires on the stores’ video surveillance systems, robbed thousands of dollars from the cash drawers, stolen food and merchandise and then trashed the shops on their way out the door.
One bodega owner even had footage of the cops cutting the video wires.
You’d think that would have been enough to get the cops busted. Or, at the very least, fired.
But this is Philadelphia, where, a disgusted veteran officer tells me, “The only way a cop can lose his job in this city is if he shoots another cop during roll call.”
Polaneczky’s colunm confirms what we already knew. That if you’re a cop and disagree with this abuse of authority, you better keep it to yourself or face retaliation.
That’s just not Philadelphia. That’s everywhere. And that has to change.
But that’s not going to change anytime soon considering the thug cops are continually reminded that they are above the law.
And in this case, Tolstoy (aka Boob Man for his tendency to fondle the breasts of women during drug raids), the cop who can be seen in the above photo cutting wires to a surveillance camera as his fellow thugs were shaking down the store owner on the pretense that they had been selling plastic baggies (seriously?), has spent the last four years training a new generation of youngsters to follow in his footsteps, according to his LinkedIn page, which you can see below.
The Philadelphia media is understandably disgusted in the decision because when you spend so much time working on an investigation, you become part of the story. That’s inevitable, which is why we need to throw out this pretense of “objectivity” in journalism, which they seem to have done in this case.
I hope they continue their investigation, but this time directing them towards the federal and local prosecutors who declined to file charges – when we routinely see them filing baseless charges on everyday citizens.
But at a time when so many people in this country are outraged over the Debacle in the Desert, even to the point of taking up arms against federal agents, one needs to wonder how much outrage will spill beyond the City of Brotherly Love over this travesty?