A Philly cop acquitted by a federal jury on charges that he and five fellow officers beat drug suspects, stole money from them, and then filed false police reports apparently used a confidential informant to make a drug arrest in June.
Sgt. Michael Spicer, one of six Philadelphia police officers acquitted last year on federal corruption charges, arrested 25 year-old George Jones in June for alleged drug and gun possession.
According to the arrest report (posted below), Spicer “had been given information” about Jones’ car, alleged to contain “a large stash of narcotics and a gun at all times.” The document claims that after responding to a routine noise complaint, Spicer and his partner, one “Sgt. Donohue,” spotted Jones getting into the vehicle, which led to the stop and eventual arrest. Police wrote in the arrest papers they found $1,500 worth of drugs in the car.
Jones’ defense attorney Patrick Link believes Spicer is a “necessary witness” in the case, because the main basis for stopping and later arresting his client relies almost entirely on Spicer and the officer’s source.
“I find it difficult to believe that Sgt. Spicer just so happened to have this very specific information about the vehicle in question,” Link said.
The DA’s office would not comment directly about Jones’ case, including whether or not they will permit Spicer to testify in court — but District Attorney spokesperson Cameron Kline denied Spicer was being used “in any narcotics cases,” even after being provided a copy of the arrest report.
“In all other matters, his involvement will be determined on a case-by-case basis,” Kline added. He did not detail what criteria the office is using to determine whether or not cases tied to the five narcotics officers should proceed.
Following his acquittal last year, Spicer was reinstated as a Philadelphia officer through arbitration. After that, he was promoted to sergeant over the wishes of then-Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey in a secret City Hall ceremony by Mayor Nutter’s deputy, according to a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer. One of the six officers acquitted, Perry Betts, retired in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana.
Scores of convictions from Spicer and company’s tour of duty have been dismissed or overturned. As early as 2012, District Attorney Seth Williams notified Ramsey that his office would begin dismissing cases tied to the six narcotics officers, because their involvement in any past and future cases effectively tainted fair proceedings for defendants. Many of those withdrawn cases occurred after the six officers were acquitted of federal corruption charges. The number of dismissed cases, dating back to 2005, has since soared to over 1,300. More are expected.
Bradley Bridge, of the public defender’s office, called Kline’s assertion that Spicer isn’t involved in Jones’ or other narcotics cases “an illusory proposition.”
“What’s going on here is an officer who has very significantly challenged credibility was placed back on the street, put in a position of responsibility, and now the past problems that the officer had will come home to roost,” Bridge said.
According to Bridge’s records, Spicer has been involved in nine arrests since 2015, two of which were narcotics cases.
“The basis of the stop will come down to Spicer’s credibility as to whether he was ever in fact provided such information, which as we know has been tarnished beyond repair,” Link says.
Link believes that the DA’s office will have a difficult time excluding Spicer from the case, because the main basis for stopping Jones rests on Spicer’s allegation that he had “been given information” – indicating the possible use of a confidential informant – about drugs and a gun located in Jones’ car, a claim that Billy Penn confirmed after reviewing the arrest report.
“Claims by police that their actions were supported by anonymous or confidential information are often used to bring their actions into conformity with constitutionally acceptable standards,” Link added.
“This is a practice that is ripe for abuse.”
Here’s the arrest report: