Richie Goodwin, the brother of a 26th District Philadelphia police officer, was arrested Wednesday and charged with repeatedly punching a man who showed solidarity with Black Lives Matter supporters near the police station last year.
Goodwin, 45, turned himself in to East Detectives division, where he was charged with assault and recklessly endangering another person.
The night of June 1, 2020, between 4 and 10 p.m., dozens of Fishtown residents called 911 or the 26th District to report they felt unsafe because they saw an agitated group of white men armed with baseball bats, wooden walking clubs, axes, and metal tools threatening, harassing, and, in some cases, assaulting peaceful protesters.
There were some 36 reports of a “person with a weapon” during that time, yet officers arrested no one on any charge within a half-mile of the district headquarters, according to department records provided by police, an Inquirer investigation found. Instead, Capt. William Fisher and other officers watched.
Goodwin is charged with assaulting Matt Williams, who was biking home with his girlfriend, Kara Khan, after police teargassed them at a Black Lives Matter protest on I-676. They were near Girard Avenue and Berks Street when someone threw a water bottle at Williams’ head. Khan got off her bike to walk toward the men, some of whom she could see wielded bats.
She said they accosted her with obscenities and racial slurs.
When she asked the officers who stood near them how they could let this happen, she said one of them told her:
“Now you know how we feel.”
Then a man, later identified as Goodwin, shoved Williams off his bike to the ground. Goodwin repeatedly punched Williams in the head until his ear and face bled, the District Attorney’s Office said. Photos show Williams on his knees, with his hands over his head, in an effort to shield the blows. Blood dripped from his head and ear. At least two bystanders attempted to intervene as Williams was attacked.
Goodwin did not respond to a phone message Wednesday. Last year, he told The Inquirer that Williams started the fight by spitting on him. Williams said he didn’t spit at anyone.
What apparently provoked Goodwin was when Williams threw up his fist in solidarity with Black Lives Matter supporters, District Attorney Larry Krasner said.
“Just as our city and nation continue to reckon with systemic racism and injustice, the Philadelphia DA’s office continues to investigate incidents of property destruction, burglary, harassment, and violence that occurred during the historic uprisings of 2020. We will not tolerate violence in the name of movement protest or in the name of ‘protecting’ the police,” Krasner said.
Goodwin had admitted to a reporter that he also shoved a male protester. “I became something that I’m not,” he said, adding that he’s “not a racist.”
Police are well-familiar with Goodwin. He served prison time for punching a man to death during a 2008 alcohol-fueled brawl. He was on probation when he was arrested in March 2012 for a DUI and a judge sentenced him to a maximum of four years, according to court records.
Goodwin is the second person to be charged in connection with the altercations that erupted in Fishtown on June 1 of last year. Last month, George Graf, 36, was charged with conspiracy, aggravated assault, and related charges for allegedly beating a WHYY producer and his girlfriend.
That night, there were roughly 20 officers on the street just outside the police station on Girard Avenue. Some chatted with the bat-wielding men who said they were there to protect the police and their neighborhood from would-be looters. Earlier, officers even shared pizza and sandwiches with them. As a result, the District Attorney’s Office and the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division launched investigations.
“I think police should do their jobs, which are to apply the law in a way that is evenhanded,” Krasner was quoted in The Inquirer investigation. “And I find it very problematic when you see law enforcement favoring one group over another and systematically refraining from reining in one group that is committing crimes.”
On June 3, 2020, officers went to Goodwin’s house in Port Richmond. Goodwin had told a reporter he had called a “crisis hotline” that morning, saying he wanted to kill himself because he was being wrongfully labeled a “white supremacist” on social media.
Goodwin said his brother, Joseph Jr., an officer since 1996, came to help and drove him to the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. Richie Goodwin served in the Navy from 1995 to 1998 where he said he suffered a brain injury after being attacked in the Persian Gulf.
“There’s something wrong with me,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt people.”