THE DAY WAS almost done, the street emptying out from a community barbecue. Inside Deborah's Hair Salon in Nicetown, stylist Margo Broaddus put the finishing touches on her last customer, as her husband helped drag chairs inside from the day's fun.
She needed cigarettes. So she gave Sean Broaddus $7 to run to the corner store. But seconds after her hubby disappeared inside the Dalvis Grocery, she said, cops emerged seemingly from nowhere and swarmed the store so quickly on Broaddus' heels, it was as if the salon's picture window had morphed into a TV screen showing a crime movie.
Margo Broaddus sprinted into the store, hairstyling comb still in her hand. Inside, she said, an officer had Sean Broaddus in a choke hold.
"The other officers were just hitting him and hitting him. The cop in the white shirt shouted: 'Put that motherf---er to sleep!' and my husband, he just looked at me, and he just closed his eyes - and then he just collapsed and peed himself," Margo Broaddus said yesterday, sobbing.
Temple University Hospital doctors pronounced Sean Broaddus, 46, dead at 9:19 p.m. Saturday, nearly an hour after the incident at 15th and Bristol streets. But Margo Broaddus thinks her husband was dead before officers carried him out of the store and laid him in the street to do CPR.
"They killed my husband! They killed my husband!" she wailed yesterday, her cheeks slick with tears, when she visited the salon briefly between funeral errands.
Homicide and internal-affairs investigators are probing the incident, said Lt. John Stanford, a police spokesman.
Jeff Moran, spokesman for the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office, said the cause and manner of death had not yet been determined.
Drug activity brought police to the block that day, Stanford said. Narcotics Strike Force officers observed Sean Broaddus making several marijuana sales, he said.
"During the arrest, [Broaddus] resisted efforts to handcuff him and became unresponsive. Officers checked for vitals and found none. So medics took him to the hospital," said Stanford, adding that he had no details on whether a choke hold or other measures were used to subdue him.
Stanford declined to name the officers involved.
"If it's investigated and determined that police officers did something inappropriate, it will be handled," he added.
Stanford noted that Broaddus was a repeat offender in Philadelphia. Court records show that he was arrested five times between 1989 and 2005 and had used at least eight aliases. He served time for theft, robbery, assault and drug offenses, records show.
But Margo Broaddus denied that her husband was a drug dealer. "He didn't even smoke cigarettes," she said.
Police paperwork didn't indicate that officers found any weapons or drugs on Broaddus that night, Stanford said.
And police found just $12.90 in his pockets - including the $7 his wife had given him for cigarettes, a worn dollar bill inscribed with a Bible verse he carried for inspiration and a few silver dollars he kept for luck, Margo Broaddus said. "Does that sound like a drug dealer to you?" she demanded.
Yesterday, between hugs from mourners, she paused to remember the man whom friends called "Blue." He was working as a laborer at a landfill at 61st Street and Passyunk Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia, his wife said.
"I met him when I was 12 years old," Margo Broaddus said. "That was my best friend. I lost my best friend. My life will never be the same. God is going to give me justice, 'cause justice is what he do."
Her sister, Tarji Kirkaldy, agreed: "They have to be held accountable for this. Just like they would take a civilian and place him in the judicial system for killing someone, they need to be prosecuted in the same manner."
- Staff writers David Gambacorta and Barbara Laker contributed