Protesters rallied at Frankford High School yesterday to demand that the Philadelphia School District launch an outside investigation of the alleged beating of a Frankford student by two school-police truancy officers.
They also called for District Attorney Lynne Abraham to file charges against the officers accused in the beating of Thomas, a star running back on Frankford's football team.
"If the school district can voluntarily provide an outside investigator to probe what happened to the Asian students at South Philadelphia High School, then they should have an outside investigation into what happened to Jeffione Thomas," Greg Brinkley, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Action Network, said yesterday.
Brinkley said that the group does not trust the school district's security staff to investigate its own people.
Michael Lodise, president of the union representing school police officers, said yesterday: "The truth [about what happened to Thomas] will come out in court."
Joyce Freeman, Thomas's grandmother, said no school-district investigators have even spoken with her grandson, a junior at the school at Oxford Avenue and Wakeling Street.
As the Daily News reported last Wednesday, Jack Creighton, the Frankford High athletic director, sent an e-mail to Philadelphia School Superintendent Arlene Ackerman a day after the Oct. 29 incident, writing that Thomas had been held down by one officer and beaten by the other.
Yesterday, Denzel Parker-Dixon, a Frankford student, said he saw the incident and described the same thing.
"They handcuffed his hands behind him and then that's when the one officer held him and the other started hitting him," Parker-Dixon said.
He said that when some of the school police officers regularly assigned to Frankford tried to stop the truancy officer from hitting Thomas, the man told the Frankford officer, " 'Man, get the f--- off of me,' " Parker-Dixon said.
Thomas, who turned 18 in November, told reporters yesterday that he had been late for school and had just gotten off a bus and was walking toward school when the truancy officers tried to stop him.
He said he mouthed off a bit and told them that he was on his way to school. When he walked into the building, the truancy officers came inside behind him and grabbed and beat him, according to Thomas's relatives, friends and some Frankford school staffers.
Earlier yesterday morning, Thomas, who was wearing a suit and tie at the rally, appeared in juvenile court on several charges, including assault on a police officer. Fortunato N. Perri, his attorney, said a criminal hearing on the charges was postponed until Jan. 22. Perri said he would ask the District Attorney's Office to drop the case.