08:58 GMT14 June 2021
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    In a shocking turn of events, a federal grand jury has cleared six former Philadelphia narcotics officers in a case of corruption which was so extreme that approximately 160 convictions had to be overturned.

    Officers Thomas Liciardello, 38, Brian Reynolds, 43, Michael Spicer, 46, Perry Betts, 46, Linwood Norman, 46, and John Speiser, 42, federally indicted for using tactics such as robbery and kidnapping to steal more than half a million dollars in cash and property from suspected drug dealers from 2006 until 2012.

    Six Philly Cops Cleared in Racketeering Case Despite Evidence They Stole $400K
    Courtesy of the Philadelphia Police Department
    Six Philly Cops Cleared in Racketeering Case Despite Evidence They Stole $400K

    "They routinely used threats, physical violence and used other extortionate means to cause the suspected drug dealers to part ways with their money, property and drugs," U.S. District Attorney Zane Memeger said in a statement.

    The indictment also stated that the officers would beat their victims- including with steel pipes, and threaten to shoot them or dangle them from balconies.  To cover up these crimes they would allegedly file false reports.

    The 26-charges they were facing included conspiracy, civil rights violations, robbery, extortion, carrying firearms during crimes of violence, falsifying records, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

    One former officer, Jeffrey Walker, testified that he had committed “thousands” of crimes while he was on duty with the narcotics unit.  He also stated he had no guilt about setting people up by planting evidence as he did not consider drug dealers to be human.

    “They abused that power … in the most egregious of ways by threatening people, abusing people, robbing people and then lying about what they had done,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen McCartney said in her closing arguments.  “These defendants behaved as if they believed that because they wore a badge, their crimes would never see the light of day.”

    Lawyers for the defense attacked the credibility of the officer who testified against them as well as the drug dealers who cooperated and testified about their experiences.

    "Is it reasonable to doubt the word of immoral, despicable people?" Defense lawyer Jack McMahon stated. "This is not a policy hearing on which regulation was violated," he said. "These are not 9-to-5 cops pushing papers, doing policy. They are the guys out there on the streets, doing what needs to be done." he also argued.

    As the defense gave their closing arguments, one juror, as well as relatives of the officers, were brought to tears.

    Thursday’s verdict came after a month of testimony and a week long deliberation.


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