Another slugging Philly cop goes viral

Police Officer William J. Gress confronts a man on South Street.
Police Officer William J. Gress confronts a man on South Street. (LIVELEAK.COM SCREEN GRAB)
Posted: October 17, 2012

TWO WEEKS after a video of a Philadelphia police officer slugging a woman went viral, another recording has surfaced on the Internet, showing a cop pummeling a man with his baton.

The video, posted Sunday on the website LiveLeak.com, shows a bearded man arguing wildly with two bouncers and a police officer during an Oktoberfest block party Sept. 29 on South Street near 7th.

The man, whom police identified as John Scrivano, 43, of Essington, Delaware County, shouts in the face of a Philly police officer, while a woman with Scrivano yells loudly and repeatedly for him to stop.

Officer William J. Gress, a bike cop who often patrols the South Street area, is shown putting his hand on Scrivano's chest as the man nears a wall.

And then all hell breaks loose.

Scrivano slaps Gress in the face, prompting the cop to strike him in the head with an extendable baton.

The video shows both men tumbling to the ground. Gress winds up on top of Scrivano and jabs him in the face with the baton numerous times, while the two bouncers attempt to grab Scrivano's arms.

At least one passer-by stops and applauds while the officer strikes Scrivano.

The person who posted the video online wrote: "This idiot and his crew decided to spend South Street's Oktoberfest event spitting at passerby [sic], throwing beer at people, insitgating [sic] fights and generaly [sic] doing their best to ruin everyones [sic] day. play time was over when the idiot decided to slap a cop."

The video had attracted close to 100,000 views as of Monday night.

Police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers said Scrivano was charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest and simple assault for his encounter with the bouncers.

"The guy was highly intoxicated. What do you want?" Evers said.

Internal Affairs investigators were notified about the incident because of the use of force.

Gress is no stranger to controversial encounters.

The Daily News reported in March that an artist from New York, Emily Hamilton Epstein, had filed a federal civil-rights complaint after Gress arrested her in 2010 while she used water-soluble chalk to create sidewalk art.

In January, the city paid a $30,000 settlement to Ebony Harris, of New Jersey, who filed the lawsuit after Gress allegedly broke her nose and spit on her outside a South Street restaurant in 2010.

Gress has been the subject of at least four other lawsuits as well.

The posting of the LiveLeak video of Gress follows the filming of Highway Patrol Lt. Jonathan Josey punching a defenseless woman in the back of the head at Philadelphia's Puerto Rican Day Parade. The incident attracted international attention and led to Josey's dismissal.


Contact Dana DiFilippo at difilid@phillynews.com or 215-854-5934. Follow her on Twitter @DanaDiFilippo. Read her blog at phillyconfidential.com.

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