Did cops use too much force in teen's arrest?

Marcus Warryton was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and resisting arrest.
Marcus Warryton was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and resisting arrest.
Posted: June 08, 2012

HOW MUCH FORCE is too much?

That's the question at the heart of an Internal Affairs investigation that city police launched over a violent, videotaped arrest of an 18-year-old youth in Frankford this week.

At least two witnesses recorded footage that shows four cops from Northeast Philadelphia's 15th District struggling with Marcus Warryton on Ruan Street near Paul shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, moments after cops say Warryton crashed his car and attempted to leave the scene.

One officer is shown striking Warryton numerous times in the head, including once while he's on the ground.

Warryton needed seven staples to close gashes on his head and near his ear, said police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers.

Although the violence might appear to be one-sided on tape, one officer suffered a neck injury during the struggle, and two others had cuts and bruises, Evers said.

One video initially shows just two officers trying in vain to subdue Warryton as he struggled against their patrol car. At one point during the encounter, Evers said, one of the officers yelled that Warryton was reaching for his gun.

Warryton, of Womrath Street near Frankford Avenue, was charged Wednesday with aggravated assault, simple assault and resisting arrest.

He was being held on $75,000 bail at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.

Evers said two of the officers spotted Warryton in a heavily damaged Pontiac Grand Prix a few minutes after a local resident called 9-1-1 to report that a car had rammed a pole and that the motorist had driven off.

"His car was leaking fluid, and the airbag was deployed. [After trying to drive off] he pulled over and started walking away, and that's when they confront him," Evers said.

Warryton's family believes he was a victim of police brutality.

"They shouldn't beat my son like that for no reason, for no reason at all," Sophia Singleton, Warryton's mother, told 6ABC. "You can see on the video where he's saying, ‘All right, all right, chill out,' and they still keep hitting on him. For what?"

Evers said "some training issues" might need to be addressed because of the incident.

The officers involved in the case will be on desk duty until the Internal Affairs investigation is finished. "Police work isn't pretty," Evers said, "but at times, officers have to be physical with people to get them under control."

Contact staff writer David Gambacorta at 215-854-5994 or gambacd@phillynews.com.

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