A Frankford High School student who is accused of punching a Philadelphia school police officer claims that the person who was assaulted was
- by two officers, a version of events his lawyer said is supported by surveillance video and eyewitnesses.
Jeffione Thomas, 18, was arrested on assault charges Oct. 29 after scuffling with two truancy officers in the lobby of Frankford High.
The officers approached Thomas because he was walking into the building late, said Fortunato Perri, Thomas's lawyer, and asked him to stop so that he could be reported for truancy.
When Thomas ignored the request and continued into school, Perri said, the officers as they ran up behind Thomas and forced him to the ground.
"He was assaulted by these two officers so severely that he had to be taken to the hospital," Perri said. The episode, the lawyer said, was captured by the school's security cameras.
School district spokesman Fernando Gallard said the district is investigating the incident, and that several eyewitnesses have been interviewed.
"We are looking at all allegations and we're taking this very seriously," he said.
The officers' names have not been released. The school police officers union could not be reached for comment today.
Thomas, who plays football for Frankford, suffered lacerations to his face, a black eye and split lip that required stitches. He missed several football games as a result of the injuries, Perri said.
Thomas was charged with aggravated assault and taken to a hospital by police. Since he was 17 at the time, the case went to Juvenile Court, where it's scheduled to be heard on Monday.
Perri said he plans to request that it be postponed until his own investigation is completed. Perri also plans to bring the case to the attention of the District Attorney's Office.
Perri, who has seen the video surveillance of the fight, said it seemed clear the officers used excessive force.
"The evidence will be abundantly clear that Jeff is innocent," Perri said.
News of the incident quickly spread through the school, and teachers and administrators have jumped to Thomas's defense. The school's athletic director, Jack Creighton, has demanded that the school thoroughly investigate what happened, Perri said.