READING, Pa. (WPVI) --Criminal charges against a Pennsylvania police officer accused of punching a woman and smashing her cellphone during a traffic stop were dismissed Wednesday.
Charges against Reading Officer Jesus Santiago-DeJesus, 27, included official oppression and evidence-tampering. Berks County District Judge Thomas Xavios dismissed all of the charges.
The officer's lawyer, Allan Sodomsky, argued the April 5 stop on a traffic violation was good and the motorist, Marcelina Cintron-Garcia, refused the officer's orders and assaulted the officer first. Sodomsky said Santiago-DeJesus merely wanted to get the woman's phone away from her so she couldn't use it as a weapon.
District Attorney John Adams argued that the officer knocked the phone out of the woman's hand to destroy video she was recording. The prosecution alleged the officer punched her and threw her to the ground. Her head struck a pipe, opening a gash that required three staples, authorities said in court papers.
Prosecutors said Santiago-DeJesus reported that the woman didn't use a turn signal before the traffic stop, but surveillance video from nearby homes and businesses showed that she did.
Cintron-Garcia and a passenger in her car were charged in the confrontation, but charges against them were later dropped.
Both say they were shocked when they heard the charges were dropped.
No comment, so far, from the DA except to say he and his staff will review the case and decide whether to re-file charges.
Adams originally said the system depends on the truthfulness of police and that it is jeopardized when an officer fabricates the truth.