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2 Philadelphia Police Department Officials Charged With Assaulting Man With Asperger Syndrome In Northeast, DA Says

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Natasha Brown reports.

Video Transcript

- Now to a developing story. Two brothers, both affiliated with law enforcement, are facing charges. As Natasha Brown reports, the charges stem from the assault of a man with a form of autism.

NATASHA BROWN: Assault charges against two brothers, a Philadelphia police inspector and detective, stemming from an incident that took place last August. Inspector James Smith and former detective Patrick Smith are facing criminal charges for their alleged role in the vehicular pursuit and assault of a 27-year-old man with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism.

The DA says shortly after midnight on August 19 the victim, who was on foot, was chased by the two off-duty officers in a car into a shopping center at Fairdale Road and Knights Road in Northeast Philadelphia. Both officers are alleged to have identified themselves as town watch before the incident allegedly turned violent.

LARRY KRASNER: They are further alleged to have chased the victim on foot, grabbed him, pushed and slammed him into a wall, and forced him to the ground. This activity caused a black eye and abrasions on the back of the victim's head, elbows, and knees, in addition to the obvious distress.

NATASHA BROWN: Investigators say the 27-year-old man called his mother just before the scuffle.

LARRY KRASNER: The complainant, out of breath from running, called his mother. The complaint's mother heard a voice say, quote, "Hold his legs." Unquote.

NATASHA BROWN: Investigators say the officers began the chase thinking that the man was involved in car break ins. But the police internal affairs division later concluded that was not the case. Philadelphia Police Internal Affairs began an investigation of the incident. Detective Smith retired from the Department in September. Inspector Smith and former Detective Smith were both arrested on Thursday. Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby gave a scathing rebuke of the DA's charges against the two veteran officers, saying the charges are unwarranted.

JOHN MCNESBY: Both of these officers misdemeanor charges over something like this, when we're losing a record number of children on the street, a record number of people dying in shootings, and this is what he's concerned about.

LARRY KRASNER: Obviously it's very disturbing that anyone, in this case two fairly high-ranking police personnel, believes it's OK to act as vigilantes.

NATASHA BROWN: Natasha Brown, CBS 3 Eyewitness News.

- Patrick Smith, the one brother who formerly worked for the police department now works for Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. He's been placed on administrative duty.