Ramsey suspended Inspector Aaron Horne and Capt. John McCloskey for 30 days without pay for allegedly covering up a scuffle between a pair of patrol cops and Rodney Handy, the 22-year-old grandson of retired police Capt. Arthur Woody. Horne and McCloskey also were transferred - Horne, the Northwest Police Division's commander, was sent to the Forensic Science Bureau, while McCloskey, commander of Olney's 35th District, went to night command.
The Daily News reported in July that 35th District Officers Shane Darden and Tim Taylor stopped Handy in his car March 18 after a report of gunfire in Oak Lane. Handy refused to get out of the car, prompting a tussle that ended only after the officers subdued him with a Taser.
Horne allegedly told Darden and Taylor to destroy records of the incident and asked McCloskey, their boss, to erase the arrest from the department's computer system. McCloskey told the Daily News in July that he knew nothing of the arrest or coverup.
Critics complained that if the allegations against Horne and McCloskey are true, they should have been charged with crimes including obstruction of justice, hindering criminal prosecution, conspiracy and tampering with evidence. Lying to Internal Affairs investigators also is a fireable offense, according to policy. Ramsey has refused to release details of Internal Affairs' findings.
"If it were you or I, the book would have been thrown against us," one Daily News reader raged. "Their badges should be taken. When they arrest others in the future, how can they be credible in a court of law?"
A Philly cop who asked not to be identified said that many officers are "furious about Horne not getting locked up and also that he went to forensic science, where evidence has to be perfect. Since he tampered with evidence, it's sort of a joke he's there."
Ramsey said Tuesday that he considered Horne's and McCloskey's "complimentary history" in deciding their discipline, which he noted was the most serious he could levy short of dismissal. He said that he did not refer the case to the District Attorney's Office because he did not believe that Horne and McCloskey committed crimes.
"I think it was a mistake. ... The intent was not to commit a crime, and all that has to be taken into consideration," Ramsey said. "There's some people who agree, and some people who disagree, and there is only one person who had to make that decision. Me. If I had to make my decisions by polls, I wouldn't get much done."
Contact Dana DiFilippo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-854-5934. Follow her on Twitter @DanaDiFilippo. Read her blog at phillyconfidential.com.