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Philadelphia Authorities to Begin Investigation into Videotaped Police Beating

Aired July 13, 2000 - 2:02 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, is drawing a lot of unflattering attention today. The source is a videotape shot by CNN affiliate WPVI. It shows at least 10 Philadelphia police officers punching and kicking a suspect. The confrontation continues for some 30 seconds. Some of the officers are in uniform; others are in street clothes. Federal authorities and Philadelphia city leaders pledge to get to the bottom.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick is watching this story unfold today in Philadelphia -- Deborah.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, the U.S. Attorney's Office here in Philadelphia is opening a preliminary investigation. Right now, though, there's no indication that the civil rights division will get involved, not at this point. The district attorney is questioning the police officers who were up involved in this beating. At one point some 16 can be seen kicking the suspect. That man is Thomas Jones, a 30-year-old self-described auto mechanic.

Now, a policeman here today said that Jones was wanted for an outstanding robbery warrant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN TIMONEY, PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMM.: The video by itself doesn't look good. I admit that. However, we need to interview those officers. We don't know what was going on the ground. We know that one police officer -- we know for a fact he was bit in the thumb and is screaming for help. There's another police officer under there that gets hurt, gets bruises and abrasions. We know for a fact that the guy is resisting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: The police commissioner, of course, said, even though he did have an outstanding warrant, unnecessary force certainly is not justified. But that is the big question here today. Did police use unnecessary and unjustified force? At least 16 officers, as I mentioned, can be seen kicking Thomas Jones. The police commissioner says: Well, they're looking into this.

Head of the NAACP says though, police crossed the line. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY MONDESIRE, PRES., PHILADELPHIA NAACP: We at the NAACP strongly believe this was a case of excessive force. This was a case where force was used above and beyond the call of duty. Officers were seen jumping over their cars to kick and stomp Mr. Jones, who had already been wounded multiple times by police weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: Jones is in fair condition, his family today visiting him at the hospital. Religious leaders were also here at the police station, they are calling for calm in the black community. They say that there will be a full investigation, they have no doubt about that. The mayor also saying while he does not condone police misbehavior, he says he is not going to back any sort of witch hunt as this investigation goes on.

Reporting live, Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Philadelphia.

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