A Philadelphia jury acquitted two former police officers of beating and falsely prosecuting a man who fled a traffic stop in 2013.
According to Al Día, Kevin Robinson and Sean McKnight faced charges including aggravated assault and criminal conspiracy. Prosecutors argued that the then-officers used excessive force when they beat Najee Rivera, who fled on a motor scooter after a traffic stop, and tried to cover their tracks by arresting him. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Rivera required treatment for eye socket injury and seven stitches. Rivera died in December 2015 when he was shot while trying to break up a fight, so prosecutors relied heavily on a blurry video showing the beating and arrest.
That video—originally sourced by Rivera’s girlfriend and viewable here via ABC News—exonerated Rivera of the original charges of aggravated assault and resisting arrest. The district attorney’s office then brought charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, criminal conspiracy, recklessly endangering another person, tampering with public records or information, false reports to law enforcement authorities, obstructing administration of Law and official oppression against Robinson and McNight. The duo argued that they used appropriate force in arresting Rivera.
Jurors watched the video multiple times during the trial. "If the video isn’t evidence of what happened, then what is?" Rivera’s mother Violetta told Al Día after the verdict.
Rivera settled with the city for $200,000 last year. Al Día reports that the money barely covered medical expenses related to the arrest.