Off-duty officers, who are brothers, accused of assault in Philadelphia: DA

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A high-ranking police officer and a former detective in Philadelphia are now facing charges of assault, conspiracy and reckless endangerment following their alleged conduct last summer, authorities said Thursday.

In a news conference, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced the arrests of Philadelphia Police Inspector James Smith and his brother, former detective Patrick Smith.

The Smiths are accused of pursuing a man with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, by car and foot to a shopping center at Fairdale and Knights roads in Northeast Philadelphia, officials said.

According to an internal affairs police investigation, the brothers falsely said they were with the community watchdog group Town Watch, and believed the man was responsible for thefts from cars in the area.

"They are further alleged to have chased to the victim on foot, grabbed him, pushed and slammed him into a wall and forced him to the ground. This activity caused a black eye and abrasions on the back on the victim's head, elbows and knees," said Krasner.

Investigators also noted a phone call the 27-year-old made to his mother as he reportedly ran from the chase.

"The complaints mother heard a voice say, 'hold his legs,' before the call abruptly ended," Krasner added.

Using tracking on the phone, the man's father arrived to the scene, where investigators said the Smith brothers again said they were with Town Watch.

Fraternal Order Of Police Lodge 5 President John McNesby said the union is backing the officers.

"It's ridiculous. Do a complete investigation. There's nothing here. These officers will be vindicated," McNesby said.

McNesby was also critical of the DA's timing to announce the charges.

"Because of his re-election, he wants to arrest two cops. It seems like the only ones in the City of Philadelphia being arrested are police," McNesby added.

In a statement, police commissioner Danielle Outlaw told Action News, "The charges against Inspector James Smith are disturbing, and allege behavior that is in stark contrast to everything that society expects of its police officers. I am grateful for all of those who worked to bring these allegations to light."

Investigators said there are no reported eyewitnesses or video of the alleged attack.

Patrick Smith retired shortly after the internal affairs investigation began and now works as an agent for the gun violence task force run by Krasner's office and the attorney general's office. A spokesperson for the attorney general said Patrick Smith was put on administrative duty with pay for the duration of the case.

The investigation is ongoing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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