At least five people have filed complaints with Philadelphia police claiming that Sgt. Jason Reid punched them in the face or head — but none of the complaints was sustained, according to police documents.
But on Friday, Municipal Court Judge Karen Simmons found that Reid had committed “outrageous government conduct” in punching Ronald Wallace and then arresting him for shouting threats and resisting.
“So outrageous that it prevents Mr. Wallace, or any defendant, from having a fair trial under the color of law,” Simmons said, dismissing all charges against Wallace.
She likened the situation to other cases in which an officer had incited the acts that formed the basis for arrest, such as an arrest for prostitution after an officer received “a ‘complete massage,’ front and back.”
In Wallace’s case, police were called June 8 to a disturbance on the 4700 block of North 12th Street in Logan and found Wallace in a dispute with a neighbor.
Wallace has a criminal history including previous convictions for terroristic threats, disorderly conduct, and assault. But on this occasion, Simmons said, Reid was in the wrong.
Video of the incident shows Reid punching Wallace at least twice in the face, leaving him bloodied.
Simmons found that Reid had lied in his initial statement about the arrest, in which he said the defendant had incurred the injury on his own and alleged that the defendant bit him, providing as evidence what the judge considered to be an old scar. After reviewing body camera footage, Reid corrected his statement.
“The video speaks for itself,” the judge said. “Even though the officer said Mr. Wallace got his busted lip from banging it on the glass, it’s clear from this video the officer was holding Mr. Wallace’s head with one hand and punching him with the other.”
Assistant public defender Michael Mellon alleged that Reid has a pattern: “He uses force of some sort that’s inappropriate, and then the person ends up being charged for manufactured reasons to justify that force.”
A Philadelphia police spokesperson said he was unable to comment. Reid did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office — which argued in court that the officer’s conduct was not outrageous — said the office could not speak about the case.
In court, prosecutors said a police Internal Affairs investigation is underway, although its timeline and scope were not clear.
Earlier this year, after another arrest that resulted in the use of force, Reid received a Medal of Bravery from the Police Department “for the performance of an outstanding arrest where the officer’s effort is met by an armed and dangerous adversary.”
The commendation was for the arrest of Stefon Crawley, whom Reid and another officer shot as he was fleeing, video of the arrest shows. The charges against Crawley were dismissed in May after the officers were not cleared to testify, according to court records.
According to police documents, Reid also had fired his gun on four previous occasions while on duty — episodes that left four people wounded and one dead. In each, Internal Affairs found he acted within department guidelines.