Grand Jury investigations aimed at police brass

Inspector Aaron Horne (right) is under investigation by Internal Affairs over a March incident that included a scuffle, a Tasering, a police injury and the arrest of a retired police captain's grandson. Horne, now commander of Northwest Police Division, is shown here after a 2006 drug bust. JOHN COSTELLO / inquirer file photo
Inspector Aaron Horne (right) is under investigation by Internal Affairs over a March incident that included a scuffle, a Tasering, a police injury and the arrest of a retired police captain's grandson. Horne, now commander of Northwest Police Division, is shown here after a 2006 drug bust. JOHN COSTELLO / inquirer file photo
Posted: January 14, 2014

A LOCAL grand jury is investigating two high-ranking Philadelphia police officials who allegedly tried to cover up an arrest in 2012.

Inspector Aaron Horne and Capt. John McCloskey are the subjects of the probe, law-enforcement sources have told the Daily News.

Both men were suspended by Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey for 30 days without pay in August 2012 after an Internal Affairs investigation found that the two commanders had tried to erase all traces of a violent encounter in Oak Lane between a pair of patrol officers and the grandson of a retired Philly cop.

Ramsey stopped short of firing Horne and McCloskey, telling the People Paper at the time that both were hard workers who had made mistakes.

Rumors circulated through the Police Department last week that Horne and McCloskey were on the verge of facing criminal charges.

"I don't know if that's accurate," Ramsey said Thursday. "I have not heard anything like that, but then again, I haven't asked. I wait for [the grand jury] to do their job. There's no interference on my part at all."

Horne and McCloskey have not yet been called to testify before the grand jury, the sources said, but other members of the department have.

John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said the union would represent Horne and McCloskey if they were to be charged.

"We haven't heard anything. We have to wait until they come to a conclusion," he said.

All of the parties involved are in somewhat uncharted waters. This appears to be the first time under District Attorney Seth Williams that a grand jury has been asked to investigate active, high-ranking police officials.

Tasha Jamerson, Williams' spokeswoman, said the D.A.'s Office had no comment. But outside observers are intrigued by the development.

"If we're at a point where one of our law-enforcement officials is taking action to put someone of [Horne's and McCloskey's] rank in jail, it should send a very serious message to other officers and other supervisors that even rank will not absolve you from scrutiny," said Kelvyn Anderson, executive director of the civilian-run Police Advisory Commission. "If, in fact, this is the case, it sends exactly the right message to the officers who are doing their jobs properly every day."

On March 18, 2012, Officers Shane Darden and Tim Taylor, patrol cops in Olney's 35th District at the time, stopped Rodney Handy in his car in Oak Lane because of a report of gunfire nearby.

Handy, then 22, refused to get out of his car, and a scuffle ensued. It ended only after Handy was subdued with a stun gun, and one of the officers was injured.

The Daily News previously reported that Handy's grandfather, retired police Capt. Arthur Woody, allegedly called Horne, who was then in charge of Northwest Detectives, and asked him to squash the arrest.

Horne allegedly instructed McCloskey, who was the commander of the 35th, to stop the arrest, destroy any paperwork and alter any records of the incident in the department's computer system - all of which blatantly violated police protocol.

An Internal Affairs investigation sustained the allegations against the two commanders.

Horne was transferred to the Forensic Science Bureau and suspended. He had been in line for a promotion to the rank of chief inspector in November 2012, but was passed over.

In October, Horne appealed his suspension and tried to recover back pay through arbitration, but lost, a police source said.

McCloskey was transferred to night command and suspended in the wake of the scandal, but now serves as the commander of the 15th District in Northeast Philly.

He could be in line for a promotion to the rank of inspector later this year.

"When you have allegations of this nature against someone of such a high rank, I think it's a wise course of action to remove the case from the department itself," Anderson said. "I guess we'll see what the result is. Hopefully, the public and police officers will get the message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated."


On Twitter: @dgambacorta

|
|
|
|
|