Graphic video, police brutality charge at Drexel University

November 14, 2012 2:34:58 PM PST
Graphic, disturbing video shows a Drexel University police cruiser ramming Walter Johnson into a wall on Drexel's campus after a pursuit triggered by suspicions that Johnson was a burglary suspect the evening of December 30th, 2011.

Johnson's pelvis was shattered. His right leg was shattered as well.

The incident began when Johnson was spotted on surveillance cameras trying to enter a couple of locked buildings on the campus. Johnson, who was away from a halfway house without permission, told police he was trying to find a public rest room.

Drexel Police claimed he and his friend were trying to break in to the buildings using screwdrivers.

"I can only tell you what I see in the video. I don't see any screwdrivers," said Johnson's lawyer, Bob Levant.

Levant says Johnson had a cell phone in his left hand and a cigarette in his right hand. He says Johnson fled when confronted by police because he was not authorized to be out on the street. And that in turn led to the incident with the car, which Levant says was not justified.

"I can't get in the heads of those officers. But the video suggests that car was intentionally pointed at Mr. Johnson and driven into him," said Levant.

The university is essentially declining comment, citing a pending lawsuit. After reviewing the Drexel surveillance video, Philadelphia's district attorney has dropped the charges Drexel filed against Walter Johnson.

"The question is, can the police behave that way based on what they saw in the video. Perhaps if someone was wielding a deadly weapon and was imminently going to kill someone, you could utilize a police vehicle in the manner seen in that video. Outside of that, which is obviously not what happens here, this is not okay," said Levant.

Walter Johnson has been in prison since the incident for violating his parole. A new parole hearing is expected soon ? as well as the formal filing of a civil rights lawsuit on his behalf against Drexel University and the school police officers involved.


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