Shoplifting suspect arrested in officer assault

PHILADELPHIA - August 18, 2010

At 3:55 p.m, police arrested the suspect.

The suspect is identified as 42-year-old Perry Martin of South Philadelphia.

Action News has learned that Martin has 22 prior police arrests.

Meanwhile, 52-year-old Philadelphia Police Lieutenant Douglas Stanford is in stable condition at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He suffered three broken ribs and a bruised lung when he was body slammed to the ground by the suspect.

Doctors expect Stanford will spend at least one night in the hospital due to his injuries.

Authorities say that around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the suspect was captured on surveillance inside a Rite Aid Pharmacy, located at 15th Street and Moyamensing Avenue in South Philadelphia.

Lieutenant Doug Stanford was on routine patrol and stopped to sign a security log. Employees pointed out the suspect and said he had been stuffing merchandise into his backpack. The lieutenant confronted the man and the situation quickly escalated from a retail theft to assault on a police officer.

Chief Inspector Scott Small says, "Retail theft is a relatively minor crime - we're going to arrest you, and Rite Aid will prosecute. However, it's not worth... elevating the crime to aggravated assault on a police officer."

When confronted, police say, the suspect started fighting with the lieutenant. The fight continued outside and the suspect picked up the lieutenant and slammed him to the sidewalk.

The suspect pedaled away on a black and red ten-speed bicycle with silver handle bars.

"He escalated a retail theft charge to an aggravated assault on a police officer," Philadelphia Police Captain Larry Nodiff told Action News. "If he's going to do this to a police officer, then obviously we're very concerned what he might do to a regular citizen."

Action News interviewed Lieutenant Stanford back in 2008. The father of three is a 29-year veteran of the force. He was rushed to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in critical condition.

Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel explained, "[Lieutenant Stanford] is expected to take his time, get healthy, be with his family for now, and then he'll come back to duty when... he's fully healed."

Tuesday evening, police searched South Philadelphia for the suspect. At one point, resident Tarrah Curcio spotted him hiding in her neighbor's yard near 29th and Smedley Streets.

"I called 9-1-1, I told the dispatcher, I threw my sandals off, and I ran up Smedley Street up to about five blocks," said Curcio. "I tried to keep him in my sight as much as possible. He was going so fast and I lost him about five blocks after that."

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