Last July 8, Philadelphia police sergeant Jason Reid, 42, put a handcuffed Ronald Wallace in the back of his patrol car. Reid was apparently unaware or did not care that his body camera was turned on, because the video showed him punching Wallace in the head, leaving the handcuffed man bloody. He then arrested Wallace for resisting arrest and threatening a police officer.
In December, Reid was the one under arrest, charged with assault, filing false reports, public records tampering and obstructing administration of the law. The false reports filing results from Reid trying to explain Wallace’s injuries by saying the man repeatedly hit his own head while in the vehicle.
Reid, who has served on the Philadelphia police force for 16 years, working on the Highway Patrol Unit for the majority of that period, received a departmental suspension with an intent to dismiss him within 30 days.
Five Other Complaints
This was not the first incident in which Reid was accused of punching or hitting someone in the head or face. In fact, there were complaints filed by five other victims, but an Internal Affairs investigation by the department could not “sustain” the accusations. Presumably, none of these beatings were caught on video.
During his career, Reid shot six people in the line of duty, all of which were considered acceptable uses of deadly force as per department guidelines. Five of those people were wounded, and one was killed.
Even though several complaints of abusive behavior by Reid were filed, that did not prevent him from receiving an award last May, a Medal of Bravery. Reid received the award, along with a fellow officer, for performing an arrest even though met with an “armed and dangerous adversary.”
The incident involved a January 2018 traffic stop of a 22-year old man whom Reid and the other officer shot five times after discovering the individual had a gun in his possession. Both officers were then promoted to sergeant.
However, charges against the man they shot were later dismissed, again after a video of the incident surfaced. The video showed the young man fleeing the scene after dropping his gun, with the officers then shooting at him. The department did not clear the officers to testify in the case.
Outrageous Government Conduct
The municipal court judge presiding over Wallace’s case dismissed all charges after viewing the video, calling Reid’s actions “outrageous government conduct.” She compared the charges of Wallace resisting arrest to other cases, such as a police officer arresting a prostitute after receiving a massage.
The judge found that Reid not only lied about Wallace hitting his own head while in the squad car, but that he also stated Wallace bit him. Reid attempted to pass off an old scar as the bite wound but later changed his statement after seeing the video.
Wallace’s public defender notes a pattern to Reid’s crimes, in that he uses inappropriate force and then tries to manufacture reasons for its justification. Hans Menos, head of the Police Advisory Commission, a civilian organization, called the Philadelphia Police Department “incredibly bad” at investigating its own. He adds it is sickening to have so many people who should not have been promoted in positions of authority and “celebrated” for abuse of Philly residents.
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