The events could have washed away the goodwill Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey had accumulated in his brief career in the city, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. While investigators sought a suspect in the killing of Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, a posse of police officers was caught on a TV video beating and kicking three suspects in an unrelated shooting. All but one of the 19 officers were white. The suspects were black. Within hours the video was national news. “Obviously when I first saw the tape I knew the potential that it could bring with it,” Ramsey said later. “It didn’t look good.”
The commissioner’s thoughts turned to the 1992 Los Angeles riots in the Rodney King case, and the uproar in Philadelphia eight years ago after the videotaped police beating of Thomas Jones. Three days before Ramsey announced he was disciplining eight officers for their involvement in the beating – four were fired – the commissioner met privately with community leaders and signaled that a decision was imminent. Not everyone was pleased; the Fraternal Order of Police condemned his action as too hasty. The police union said the disciplined officers had not gotten a thorough review.