Family and friends of Germantown’s Tyree Carroll have released the names of the three officers involved in Carroll’s violent arrest captured on video in a press release, and all have multiple complaints on file with Internal Affairs, according to Kelvyn Anderson, executive director of the city’s Police Advisory Commission.
The officers are John Ellis, Jeff Middleton and Brad Momme. Carroll’s lawyer Michael Wiseman confirmed the names of the officers to Billy Penn. In an email, Philadelphia Police Lieutenant John Stanford said the department had not released any names, nor would they at this time confirm that Ellis, Middleton, and Momme were involved. In reply to the question of whether past complaints would be considered when investigating allegations against the officers who arrested Carroll, Stanford said: “All incidents are investigated individually as they occur but if there is some indication of a pattern regarding any individual officer that will certainly be addressed.”
Ellis, Middleton and Momme are among at least twenty Philly cops who appear in a recently publicized video that has been watched 180,00 times and counting beating the 22 year-old Carroll for several minutes before one throws his bike over a fence. In the days following the posting of the video July 8, the Carroll family issued a statement saying that he admitted he bit a police officer who “had him in a chokehold,” and that he bit him only because he has asthma and feared suffocation.
Momme has been named in at least two recent lawsuits for abuse – for an allegedly retaliatory “stop-and-frisk” of a former police officer, and for false arrest, excessive force, and malicious prosecution of a man who said Momme “treated [him] like a dog” while he was having a diabetic episode.
Anderson, of the Police Advisory Commission, said all of the Internal Affairs complaints against the three officers are closed except one.
“The release of the names isn’t just a question of ‘we just want to know their names,’” said Margaret Prescod of the “Justice for Tyree Campaign,” “but part of pressuring the city to be accountable for the actions of these officers, and that the officers themselves are being held to account.”
14th District police arrested Carroll for drug possession, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest, as well as for attempted distribution of narcotics for alleged possession of 5.3 grams of crack cocaine. Carroll was previously convicted of possessing marijuana, prior to last year’s decriminalization bill.
He remains incarcerated at the House of Correction in Northeast Philly. A leg swollen from the knee down has gone without treatment, say visitors to Carroll, and his attorney, Wiseman, said his client has what appears to be a “festering boil” on his head and fears that it is a staphylococcus infection.
Carroll was arraigned Tuesday but not present in court for the proceeding. He can’t be bailed out because he was on probation for a misdemeanor marijuana charge, and the felony arrest is a potential violation of this probation, which puts any pretrial release on hold until that matter is settled. Wiseman said he was working to have this probation “retainer” dropped so that he could be released for medical treatment.
A press conference last Friday at police headquarters and a Saturday protest in Carroll’s neighborhood saw calls from a “Justice for Tyree Campaign” for Carroll’s immediate release. That demand was issued with others from the Campaign including public release of the names of “26 officers” involved and for a DOJ investigation. They also want paid trauma counseling for Carroll and his family, for the city to “fast-forward” Nancy Carroll’s request for public transportation assistance, a guarantee not to retaliate against the Carroll family or supporters, and for police commissioner Charles Ramsey to resign.
The incident comes after months after the Department of Justice released a report on the Philadelphia Police Department’s use of deadly force. The report found training deficiencies in the police department with regard to use of deadly force and a lack of cooperation with the Police Advisory Commission, a city agency that provides oversight of the police department.
Billy Penn met with Wiseman, the Carroll family, and members of the campaign before the press conference. Wiseman said he will be filing a motion to suppress any narcotics evidence police claim they found on Carroll as fruit of the poisonous tree, asserting that police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop and search Carroll.
The video of Carroll’s arrest, which received little notice before it was posted to the blog of Los Angeles media professional Jasmyne Cannick last week, does not show the beginning of the encounter.
Ellis, the arresting officer of record, testified at Carroll’s preliminary hearing that police had stopped Carroll for riding his bike the wrong way down a one way street. Locust is a one way, but Carroll is no longer riding his bike at the point the video begins.
Ramsey told the Daily News: “Video excites people…But this isn’t television, this is real life. . . . Just because there’s cops there and someone was resisting arrest doesn’t mean there was wrongdoing.”
Prescod said she and other members of the campaign would be meeting with other activists from the Black Lives Matter movement nationwide, including the mother of Eric Garner, the black man who died after he was arrested by New York City Police who put him in a chokehold, and discussing Carroll’s case.
“In every case that we have seen around the country,” she said, “whether it has been police beatings or perhaps even police murders, the communities have always pressed for the names of the officers involved to be released, and people have a right to know. Particularly if those officers are still serving, they are a danger to our community; they have to be off the streets.”