Another Phila. cop confrontation caught on tape

PHILADELPHIA - October 16, 2012

It was a festive day and South Street was closed off as the Brauhaus Schmitz celebrated Oktoberfest on Saturday, September 29th.

But a couple of customers got out of hand and they asked them to leave. That's when the police became involved, and the confrontation that followed has gone viral.

"They were spitting at people, throwing beers around, just causing trouble," said Raymond Vlug.

The restaurant manager asked 43-year-old John Scrivano and his friend to leave. When they refused, the police were called and Officer William Gress can be seen confronting Scrivano.

That's when Scrivano slaps the officer in the face and the struggle begins.

Officer Gress gets Scrivano on the ground and repeatedly beats him with a baton.

It appeared that the officer was provoked, but many question if he went over the top to retalitate?

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says they are looking into it.

"Right now the officer is still on active duty, did not have to pull him off the street. But we are going to continue to look at it," said Commissioner Ramsey.

Commissioner Ramsey says the timing is unfortunate.

The Oktoberfest video surfaced just two weeks after another video shows a Philadelphia police officer slugging a woman.

Lt. Jonathan Josey was fired almost immediately in that case. But in this case, it will be a tougher judgment call since Scrivano was clearly the aggressor.

Action News tried to speak with him at his home in Essington, but his girlfriend, Liz turned us away.

She is the woman who appears to be trying to calm Scrivano before he hit the cop. She also went to his side after the beating.

She says he now looks like Frankenstein with a concussion, a broken eye socket and eight stitches in his forehead.

Commissioner Ramsey says officers are justified in using whatever force is necessary to subdue a suspect.

The restaurant manager says he had a better view than the camera angle.

"He just would not stop. He just wouldn't stop until he was completely subdued," said Vlug. "I think he was unconscious for a couple seconds, but even on the ground he just kept on going."

Justified or not, Officer Gress has a long history of excessive force allegations.

He has been sued 13 times in federal court. Eleven of those cases were settled for a total of close to $300,000.

Commissioner Ramsey says his past history will be a factor only if they find he went over the top this time.

"If it is found to be inappropriate, obviously we are going to look at other factors then we will look at other factors as well. But right now, we haven't gotten that far."

Officer Gress remains on the job and Scrivano is due in court next month to face multiple charges, including aggravated assault which is a felony.

Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.