Reporting by the Philadelphia
Inquirer in 2001 about so-called “nickel rides,” the practice
of Philadelphia police throwing suspects into police vans without
any seatbelts or other restraints and then driving recklessly with
the intent to cause suspects harm,
led at the time to an internal investigation by the police
department and a promise to quit it. The term “nickel ride” comes
from a time when amusement rides cost a nickel, and the practice is
apparently as old.
The Inquirer noted that these rides led to “massive
civil settlements,” including one case in which a man who alleged
he was paralyzed during a “nickel ride” was paid out $1.2 million.
Twelve years later, the Inquirer
reports the practice may still be alive and well, focusing on
three recent lawsuits alleging injury from police van rides,
including one that began with an altercation between an off-duty
cop and the subsequently injured victim.
Via the Inquirer:
[Officer James] O’Shea was off duty and in plainclothes
at the time. He says he was forced to subdue [James] McKenna and
arrest him after McKenna punched a bartender in a Center City
“He was highly intoxicated and highly aggressive,” O’Shea said in
McKenna denies hitting a bartender. He said the incident began
after he saw a woman he knew at the bar and sent her and a friend a
drink. When the women refused the drinks, McKenna said he went over
to ask why.
At that point, he said, O’Shea flashed his badge and told him to
leave. As he started to walk away, McKenna said, the officer jumped
him from behind.
O’Shea summoned police and they arrived in an emergency patrol
“F- this guy up,” McKenna said O’Shea told his fellow
O’Shea denied that. “That’s completely false, 100 percent,” he
Handcuffed, McKenna was put in the back of a police wagon. He said
he wasn’t strapped in.
He said the van took off, taking turns at high speeds, then braking
suddenly, throwing him from the seat and to the floor.
McKenna was charged with simple assault, a misdemeanor. At a trial,
the bartender testified that McKenna had struck him, but McKenna
said he had not seen the bartender that night. The judge found
McKenna not guilty.
McKenna withdrew his lawsuit last year when his attorney dropped
out after McKenna’s neck surgeon said he planned to testify it was
possible for McKenna to have injured himself. McKenna tells the
Inquirer he wants to refile his lawsuit, asking “”What if
I’d broke an officer’s neck?” Read the rest of the
Inquirer article, which includes the story of one suspect
who died two weeks after allegedly being taken on a “nickel ride,”
here. Philadelphia’s police commissioner, who
previously invited the FBI to review his department’s use of
deadly force, did not offer the newspaper any comment.
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/08/philadelphia-police-reviving-practice-of