The D.A. put on quite a dog and pony show today.
But when the dog and pony departed the stage, they left behind a few fragrant manure piles.
The first pile dropped when the D.A. and four assistant district attorneys told a room full of reporters and TV camera crews that the Feb. 7th brawl at the Recess Lounge, featuring Shady McCoy and a couple of off-duty cops, was just another routine case. And that the D.A. treated it just like he would any other investigation. As in, just the facts, ma'am.
Yeah, right. We're talking about a barroom brawl over a $350 bottle of pink champagne that featured a celebrity pro football player and a couple of off-duty cops who got beaten up. It's a story that made it onto WIP, TMZ and ESPN, as well as The Washington Post, and every pro football blog in the country.
Our D.A. is a well-known publicity hound. And we all know that R. Seth Williams doesn't devote nine weeks and assign at least a half-dozen ADAs and a bunch of detectives to investigate every barroom brawl.
So please Mr. D.A., don't try and tell us what we're smelling after your press conference is a bunch of daisies.
The D.A. dropped his next stinker when he pretended that his office treated a trio of off-duty cops involved in the brawl just like they would any other average ordinary citizens.
Sifting through the manure piles, it's clear that there was plenty of credible evidence that Officer Roland Butler may have started the fight.
The D.A. admitted that Officer Butler grabbed former Pitt running back Tamarcus Porter by the collar, and then by the throat. Somehow, the D.A. said, sounding mystified, both men wound up on the ground where many witnesses saw Officer Butler, all 6-foot-4 and at least 250 pounds of him, on top of the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Porter, the D.A. told reporters.
When the bouncers threw Butler out of the Recess Lounge, along with Porter and Officer Darnell Jessie, another off-duty cop, two on-duty Philadelphia police officers were standing outside the club, Williams said. And what did they see? That Officer Butler was "the person being the most aggressive outside," according to the D.A.
"I want the guy with the dreads, I want the guy with the dreads" is what witnesses supposedly overheard Officer Butler saying about his desire to get even with Porter.
It took a while for reporters to decode who Williams and his assistants were talking about because they didn't identify the brawl participants by name or by occupation, as in off-duty cops.
But as the dog and pony show generated more and more fertilizer, it became clear that the only two witnesses who gave statements to the D.A. about how the brawl started were those two off-duty cops who were right in the middle of the fracas, none other than Officers Butler and Jessie!
It's amazing that the two cops couldn't get their story straight.
Officer Jessie, according to Williams, "didn't know how he got hurt, didn't know who hurt him, didn't even know he was hurt." But whether the officer suffered a concussion or was blind drunk, we'll never know.
Oh wait, they didn't do that.
That's right, they didn't talk to Porter, the guy who had Officer Butler's hands around his throat, according to Dennis Cogan, Shady McCoy's lawyer, who conducted his own investigation of the fracas.
"If this case had ever come to court we would have pointed fingers at the off duty police officers," Cogan said. But Cogan's client had just side-stepped a criminal indictment that would have resulted in the star running back having to forfeit at least $18 million of the guaranteed money in his $40 million contract with the Buffalo Bills. So Cogan could afford to be in a charitable mood.
In his opinion, Cogan said, the D.A.'s investigation "should have been terminated earlier." But "Look, it turned out right."
Cogan also told the D.A. about a witness who saw Sgt. Daniel Ayres, the third off-duty inside the Recess Lunge, allegedly reach for a black 9 mm pistol in a holster on his right hip.
"Shady, he's a cop," the witness told McCoy.
That witness talked to Cogan's investigators. But at the D.A.'s press conference, one assistant D.A. went out of his way to tell reporters that they didn't rely on Cogan's investigation, and interview many of the witnesses that Shady's lawyer dug up. Instead, the ADA said, they conducted their own independent investigation and found their own witnesses. In addition to other witnesses who came forward on their own.
That's great but why not talk to all the witness at the Recess Lounge? Even the ones Cogan gave you. Were they somehow tainted? Were you afraid of hearing something that you didn't want to hear?
After the dog and pony show was over, I asked the D.A.'s guys if they ever talked to any witness who saw one of the cops with a gun.
No, they didn't, they said.
As far as Cogan was concerned, the D.A.'s dog and pony show was OK because it showed his guy didn't do anything wrong.
"All he saw was a big guy on top of his friend with his hands on his friend's throat," Cogan said.
"What's he supposed to do?"
If McCoy didn't try to break up the fight, Cogan said, "the whole country would be talking about what a coward he is."
While the district attorney claimed that all the participants in the brawl had been drinking heavily, Cogan disputed that.
"My guy was not drunk," Cogan said. "He had like two sips of Hennessy. He's not a drinker; he's never been into drinking."
When McCoy voluntarily met with the D.A. on Feb. 23rd, he was emotional and teary-eyed.
He has friends who are cops, he said. He would never want to hurt a cop. But Officer Butler, who was in plainclothes that night, did not behave like a cop at the Recess Lounge, McCoy told the D.A. No, Officer Butler acted more like a thug.
At the Recess Lounge, the D.A. said, they have a special deal, buy three bottles of champagne for $350 each, and, "You get the fourth bottle free."
So instead of running up a $1,400 bar tab, the off-duty cops spent only $1,050, according to our cost-concious D.A.
|The artist formerly known as Rufus|
Also, when the D.A. is running an investigation, he might as well be wearing a beret on his shaved head.
That's because when this D.A. investigates a crime, he told reporters, he and his guys are painting a portrait. And every time they talk to a new witness, they're splashing some fresh paint on the canvas.
When the D.A. was talking about his investigation of the brawl at the Recess Lounge, he grew rhapsodic, comparing it to a "Pablo Picasso painting."
I kid you not.
The D.A. may be right about being an artist.
But instead of paint and canvas, his medium is bullshit.
|Melee At The Recess Lounge|