Off-duty officers, who are brothers, accused of assault in Philadelphia: DA

A high-ranking police officer and a former detective in Philadelphia are now facing charges of assault, conspiracy and reckless endangerment following their alleged conduct last summer.

Video Transcript

- Well, tonight, a Philadelphia police inspector and his brother, a former detective, are facing charges in connection with a senseless attack. The two men are accused of chasing and beating a man while they were off duty. "Action News" reporter George Solis is live at police headquarters with the disturbing details and the charges announced today. George?

GEORGE SOLIS: Yeah, Rick. Both men of the law and brothers face these misdemeanor charges for this alleged assault that happened this past summer while, again, reportedly off duty. They've been under investigation since this past summer. Today, there was strong reaction from the police commissioner and the police union.

A high-ranking police officer and a former detective in Philadelphia now face charges of assault, conspiracy, and reckless endangerment for their alleged conduct this past summer. In a news conference Thursday, a Philadelphia district attorney announced the arrest of Philadelphia police inspector James Smith and his brother, former detective Patrick Smith.

The Smiths are accused of pursuing a man with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, by car and foot to this shopping center at Fairdale and Knights Road in Northeast Philadelphia. According to an internal affairs police investigation, the brothers falsely said they were with the community watchdog group Town Watch and believed the man was responsible for thefts from cars in the area.

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.

GEORGE SOLIS: Investigators also noted a phone call the 27-year-old made to his mother as he reportedly ran from the chase.

LARRY KRASNER: The complainant's mother heard a voice say, quote, "hold his legs," unquote, before the call abruptly ended.

GEORGE SOLIS: Using tracking on the phone, the man's father arrived to the scene, where investigators said the Smith brothers again said they were with Town Watch. Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 President John McNesby said the union is backing the officers.

JOHN MCNESBY: It's ridiculous. Do a complete investigation. There's nothing here, and these officers will be vindicated.

GEORGE SOLIS: McNesby also critical of the DA's timing in announcing the charges.

JOHN MCNESBY: Because it was re-election, he wants to arrest two cops. It seems like the only ones being arrested in the city of Philadelphia are police.

GEORGE SOLIS: In his statement, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw told "Action News," quote, "The charges against inspector James Smith are disturbing and alleged behavior that is in stark contrast to everything that society expects of its police officers."

And we should note there are no reported eyewitnesses or video of the attack. Inspector Smith is a 30-year veteran of this force. His brother, former Detective Smith, has been an agent with the Philadelphia Gun Violence Task Force, a joint task force between the Office of the Attorney General and the DA.

The brothers have been suspended and placed on administrative duty, respectfully. The investigation is ongoing. We are live outside Philadelphia Police Headquarters. George Solis, Channel 6, "Action News." Rick?