A Frankford High School star football player allegedly beaten by two Philadelphia school police officers in October was held down by one officer and beaten by the other, the school's athletic director alleged in an e-mail obtained by the Daily News.
"As a Philadelphia teacher for 35 years I am ashamed at the way one of our children was treated by a School District Task Force Policeman," Jack Creighton, who is also chair of the school's health, safety and physical education department, wrote on Oct. 30 in an e-mail sent to district Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman and other district officials.
Jeffione Thomas, an 18-year-old junior, was still 17 on Oct. 29, when an encounter with the police truancy officers landed him in the hospital with a black eye, broken blood vessels in his left eye, cuts to his lips and several loosened teeth.
"My jaw still hurts when I eat," Thomas said yesterday.
Friends and relatives said the two officers assaulted Thomas shortly after the 5-foot-8, 170-pound running back walked into the school, on Oxford Avenue near Wakeling Street.
But it was Thomas who was charged with assault. He faces a juvenile hearing on Monday.
Thomas' defense attorney, Fortunato N. Perri, said he would ask the court to postpone the hearing.
"We're going to ask the D.A. to take a long, hard look at the case because . . . we feel that Jeffione is innocent and should never have been charged," Perri said. "We believe the truant officers completely overreacted under the circumstances."
Thomas said that he had overslept and was walking to school after getting off a SEPTA bus when the officers told him to get into a truancy van. Friends said he told the officers "I'm already late," and continued to walk into school.
Joyce Freeman, Thomas' grandmother, said she saw a copy of the subpoenaed surveillance videotape that shows Thomas casually walking into the school and the two truancy police officers "running inside the school after him. . . . "
"He was just walking in like it was a normal day and they ran up behind him," Freeman said. "They were the ones running. He walked in. He didn't know anyone was behind him."
In the e-mail, Creighton said that the officers' "use of extreme force was uncalled for" and urged those investigating the incident to "not let the LIES and false statements damage this young man any more than the officers fists already have.
"I know that School District Police must support one of their own, but the truth must be heard," the e-mail continued. "Please, as our leader, make sure that this student's beating is not washed over with untruths and that the bully that did this is not allowed to do it to some other child."
Creighton, who did not provide the e-mail, could not be reached for comment.
The district has said it was investigating the incident.
The president of the school police officers union, Michael Lodise, could not be reached for comment last night.
Freeman said that Thomas, who had spent time in the Glen Mills disciplinary school when he was 15 after previous run-ins with the law, has turned his life around and has made a good impression at Frankford.
"The wrestling coach just called me today and told me they want Jeffione to be on the wrestling team," Freeman said yesterday.
Thomas, who said that colleges have expressed interest in him, missed three football games after he was injured in the incident with school police. He returned to play the final game of the season against North Catholic on Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, Greg Brinkley, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Action Network, the New York-based organization headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, said he may be traveling to New York to brief Sharpton about the case as early as Saturday.
Furthermore, he said the group wants the city's Department of Human Services to investigate the alleged beating of Thomas as child abuse.
"If a child comes to school and they appear to be abused or beaten, the school will contact DHS and investigate the parent or guardian," Brinkley said. "We want them [DHS] to do the same thing when it comes to a child who is injured by the school's staff."