A Philadelphia police officer who punched a man apparently overdosing on drugs Wednesday — minutes before the man died en route to a hospital — was wearing a body camera that captured the blow on video, a police spokesperson said Friday.
Inspector Sekou Kinebrew said the footage was a key part of the ongoing investigation into the incident in a Rite Aid store parking lot in Logan. Police have said the officer, an 11-year-veteran assigned to the 35th District, punched the 28-year-old in the head while he and other officers tried to restrain the man as he grew “increasingly agitated,” and began screaming and striking parked cars.
Kinebrew declined to release the footage, citing the investigation. He said the department’s Officer Involved Shooting unit, which investigates all deaths in police custody, is seeking additional video of the struggle, possibly from surveillance cameras or witnesses.
Many other questions remained Friday, including the name of the victim, which police were declining to release because the cause and manner of death had not been determined. The Medical Examiner’s Office also declined to identify the man, saying its investigation was ongoing.
Police also have not released the identity of the officer who threw the punch. Kinebrew said the officer is 31 years old and was placed on administrative duty in the wake of the incident.
The episode happened three days after new Commissioner Danielle Outlaw took over the 6,500-member department. In a statement Thursday, Outlaw said the department would “conduct a thorough, complete, and objective investigation.”
Police said that about 5:18 p.m. Wednesday, officers responded to the Rite Aid on the 4600 block of North Broad Street for a report of a hospital case. A crowd had gathered around the man, who police said was shirtless and lying on the ground between two parked cars.
Kinebrew said the officers were told that a pharmacist had already given the man naloxone, a drug that helps treat opioid overdoses. The man became animated, police said, then began “screaming largely unintelligibly” and striking the cars and the ground.
Officers tried to restrain the man by placing him in handcuffs, and Kinebrew said he was partially cuffed when the officer punched him in the head.
Police said officers put the handcuffed man into a Fire Department medic van. While en route to the hospital, police said, he became unresponsive, and he was declared dead at Einstein Medical Center at 5:58 p.m.