Man tells of encounter with alleged rogue cops

Center City barber Kenneth Mills alleges in a lawsuit that rogue members of the police narcotics squad stole cash and a ring during a raid on his shop and rental property.
Center City barber Kenneth Mills alleges in a lawsuit that rogue members of the police narcotics squad stole cash and a ring during a raid on his shop and rental property. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 03, 2014

Center City barber Kenneth Mills says he narrowly escaped the grip of corrupt Philadelphia narcotics officers.

Mills, 46, who runs the Extremely Sharp cuttery on South 10th Street, was identified as victim "K.M." in this week's federal indictment of six former officers from an elite narcotics unit.

The indictment described the role of two of the six officers in a November 2011 raid on Mills' shop and his West Philadelphia rental property.

It says Officers Brian Reynolds and Perry Betts stole $4,050 and a gold ring in the raid. Then, it said, police prepared false paperwork accusing him of firearms violations.

Mills, who has a criminal record, said the firearms charges could have sent him to prison for a decade.

"It's over now, through the grace of God," Mills said in an interview while clipping hair at the shop he has run for 13 years.

Mills has sued the city and the officers involved. In addition to contending that Reynolds and Betts framed him, his suit alleges that narcotics Officer Stephen Dmytryk prepared a false search warrant.

Dmytryk could not be reached for comment Friday.

According to the indictment in the case announced Wednesday, "S.D." prepared paperwork for the firearms charges but "failed to state" that police were told another person owned the weapon.

Federal prosecutors declined to comment on the indictment's mention of S.D., but said the investigation was ongoing.

Mills' suit says that in addition to Betts, Reynolds, and Dmytryk, Officer Thomas Liciardello participated in the raid on his shop and rental property.

"Tommy, he was the ringleader," Mills said in the interview, pointing to a newspaper photo of Liciardello. "He was the real pit bull."

Lawyers for the officers named in Mills' suit denied his allegations.

In the barbershop raid, he said, the officers demanded to know where drugs were hidden. There were none, he said.

After raiding the shop, they took Mills to his rental property in the 6200 block of Cedar Avenue.

There, the suit says, the officers stole the money and ring, and found a pistol. Mills said that the gun was legally owned by his tenant, and that she told officers it was her gun.

In late 2012, Mills was scheduled to go on trial, and he worried about a possible prison term.

But in December 2012, District Attorney Seth Williams said he would no longer prosecute cases stemming from arrests made by Liciardello, Betts, Reynolds, and two other narcotics officers. Prosecutors then began withdrawing cases and dropped all charges against Mills.

The six narcotics officers arrested this week are charged with robbing, extorting, and seriously beating suspects in drug cases.

Comparatively speaking, Mills said, he was grateful he was not beaten or sent to jail.

"My story is nothing compared to those people," he said of the alleged victims in the federal criminal case, "through the grace of God."


mfazlollah@phillynews.com

215-854-5831

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