Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Police Commander Undermines Outlaw & Kenney's Tear Gas Alibi

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

According to Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, the teargassing of protesters blocking the Vine Street Expressway last year was a decision made solely by a rogue and since-demoted deputy police commissioner.

But a senior police commander testifying in court today punched a few big holes in that alibi. From what that police commander had to say in court, it's clear that both Kenney and Outlaw were lying about who gave that final approval to drop the tear gas, and now their joint cover up is finally being exposed.

On June 1, 2020, Inspector Winton Singletary was at the Vine Street Expressway before the tear gas canisters were launched. From the witness stand, the inspector said that former deputy Police Commissioner Dennis Wilson was in "constant contact" that day with the "on-site incident commanders." And then  Singletary repeatedly identified those "on-site incident commanders" as Police Commissioner Outlaw and her boss, Mayor Kenney. 

Singletary further testified that he heard Wilson say over police radio that he had received final approval to tear gas the protesters, an approval that Singelary said came not only from Outlaw, but also the mayor.

Singletary, a 35-year veteran of the police force and a former SWAT team captain, was testifying in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court today at a preliminary hearing in the case of former SWAT team Officer Richard Nicoletti. Outlaw fired Nicoletti for pepper-spraying three protesters kneeling on the Vine Street Expressway, who were in the act of illegally blocking that highway during rush hour.

At the close of the hearing, Fortunato Perri, Nicoletti's lawyer, described his client as a "scapegoat for people above him." He was talking about officials who were totally inept when it came to handling peaceful protests, as well as defending the city against an invading army of rioters, looters, and arsonists. 

If Nicoletti committed a crime by following the orders of his superiors, Perri said, there ought to be a couple of "co-conspirators" sitting beside Nicoletti at the defense table, representing the "highest levels of leadership" in the city. 

To anybody who was in the courtroom today, it was obvious that Perri was talking about Kenney and Outlaw. We're talking about a mayor and his hand-picked but incompetent police commissioner who both previously had lied their way out of a political jam last year by pinning all the blame for the Vine Street teargassing on another official scapegoat, former Deputy Police Commissioner Wilson.

Outlaw fired Nicoletti after she said she was "disgusted" by video that showed the SWAT team member pepper-spraying a trio of protesters.

In the video, Nicoletti yanked off the goggles of one female protester and sprayed her in the face with pepper spray. And then he raised the head of another female protester, who was bent over, before firing more pepper spray in her face.

"Police work isn't pretty," Perri said before he called to the witness stand Sgt. Christopher Binns, who trained Nicoletti. Binns proceeded to explain that everything that Nicoletti did was not only according to police directives, but had also previously and personally been authorized by Police Commissioner Outlaw.

After the riots, cop-hating District Attorney Larry Krasner charged Nicoletti with simple assault, reckless endangerment, official oppression, and possession of an instrument of crime, namely the police department issued pepper spray. But on May 18th, Judge William Austin Meehan saw through this farce of a case, and tossed the charges, declaring that Nicoletti had done nothing more than follow the orders of his superiors.

“You may not like their methods, that doesn’t criminalize their methods,” Meehan said at the time.

But Krasner refiled the charges, and this time, he found a judge who agreed with him. 

That would be Judge Crystal Bryant-Powell, who in 2018, was a former employee of Krasner's, working in the D.A.'s office as an assistant district attorney.

At the beginning of the hearing, Judge Bryant-Powell made a big deal out of declaring to Assistant District Attorney Brian Collins that she was "very fond" and actually "adored" Fortunato Perri's father, a since-deceased city judge.

Judge Bryant-Powell told ADA Collins that she would gladly entertain a motion to recuse herself if Collins considered her affection for Perri's father a possible conflict of interest that might prevent the judge from being fair to the D.A.'s office.

But the judge made no mention of a much more real appearance of a conflict of interest, namely her  former status as an employee in the D.A.'s office working under Krasner.

At the end of the two-hour hearing, the judge did her former boss's bidding by reinstating all the charges against Nicoletti, the same charges that Judge Meehan had previously tossed. 

Then, Judge Bryant-Powell scheduled a Nov. 5 trial date for Nicoletti. Which judge will preside over the trial has not yet been determined. 

In his testimony, Inspector Singletary said that a number of police tactics, including the use of tear gas and pepper spray, had previously been approved by the police commissioner during a meeting with the SWAT team and their commanders. At this meeting, according to numerous cop sources, the SWAT team even fitted Outlaw for a gas mask. 

Regarding the use of tear gas, Singletary said, Outlaw wanted to be the one top cop to grant final approval. But the use of pepper spray had already been approved by her, the inspector said, as well as by the mayor. No further approval was necessary, Singletary said, before Nicoletti came out firing.

As far as Nicoletti's lawyer was concerned, the whole prosecution was ridiculous because from the testimony of his superiors, Nicoletti was only following orders.

"Not only was a crime not committed" by Nicoletti, Perri told the judge, but Nicoletti also "did not violate police directives."

The day of the Vine Street teargassing, hundreds of people protesting the murder of George Floyd in police custody tore down a fence before invading the highway during rush hour. The protesters climbed on the cars of motorists caught in the traffic jam. They also attacked a police cruiser with a state trooper inside, who radioed for help.

The orders of the SWAT team that day were to "clear the highway," Inspector Singletary told the judge, by using tear gas and pepper spray against the protesters.

"That crowd would have been the target," Singletary testified.

When Sgt. Binns took the stand, he testified that he had been training the SWAT team for the past 30 years.

If a protester had goggles on, to protect herself from pepper spray, Sgt. Binns explained, Nicoletti's duty was to "remove barriers" such as those goggles, before applying the pepper spray directly in the face of the protester.

And if a protester had her head bowed to avoid being gassed, Sgt. Binns explained, Nicoletti was trained to "rock back" the protester "out of that tactical position" and then fire some pepper spray in the protester's face.

Assistant District Attorney Collins, a former public defender who joined the D.A.'s office in 2018, argued that the protesters were merely peaceful activists who were just "sitting there passively" when they were assaulted by some 60 to 120 SWAT team members.

The intent of Nicoletti, ADA Collins claimed, was to "inflict bodily harm on the protesters."

Why would Nicoletti, a former Army ranger with three tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, want to inflict bodily harm on college kids?

According to ADA Collins, Nicoletti was angry "about the protest that was happening that day."

This was too much even for pro-Krasner Judge Crystal Bryant Powell.

"You don't know what was in his head," she admonished Collins about the defendant. 

When the day in court ended, the alibi of the police commissioner and mayor was in tatters. Expect it to get nuked at trial. 

The alibi had its origins at a June 25, 2020 joint press conference held by Kenney and Outlaw, after the mighty New York Times came after both of them for teargassing those peaceful protesters. Kenney and Outlaw called the press conference to apologize. But they also had concocted an alibi.

At the press conference, Deputy Police Commissioner Wilson came up to the podium and gave Kenney and Outlaw political cover, by taking the entire blame for the teargassing. 

"I didn't call the commissioner, I gave the  approval," Wilson said. "And it was me and me alone."

Wilson then announced that for "violating the rules of engagement and the commissioner's trust, I'm going to take a voluntary demotion" to chief inspector.

"Falling on the sword," was how Police  Commissioner Danielle Outlaw characterized it at the press conference before she dispatched Wilson with a pat on the back.

Nobody in the police department, however, bought that story. As several cops who knew Wilson told Big Trial, Wilson was the ultimate company man, a cautious cover-your-ass kind of guy who would have never taken such a drastic action such as teargassing protesters in the middle of a riot,  with TV helicopters flying overhead, without first clearing it with his superiors.

So why did Wilson take the fall, along with a voluntary demotion to chief inspector, and an annual pay cut of $30,000? Because, as Big Trial has previously reported, according to police sources, Wilson had been told that the D.A. was planning to arrest him. And if convicted, under Pennsylvania law, Wilson stood to not only lose his pension, but also a DROP bonus of some $800,000.

So that's why Wilson played along and took the fall for Kenney and Outlaw. As a veteran commander told Big Trial, "She [Outlaw] knew ALL about it [the teargassing], and in typical fashion, she abdicated all responsibility, and blamed it on poor Dennis Wilson. The entire department knows this."

To further facilitate the cover up, Outlaw has repeatedly ignored requests to be interviewed by the Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit regarding their investigation into the teargassing.

Also, the official police tapes from that day have been removed from public access. But expect some subpoenas to fly before Nicoletti goes on trial for following the orders of his cowardly and back-stabbing superiors.

A report from the controller's office earlier this year bought the big lie, coming to the erroneous conclusion that Outlaw had never given the final approval to launch tear gas. The city's credulous news media, led by the pro-Krasner progressives at The Philadelphia Inquirer, have also dutifully and faithfully carried the false narrative of the Kenney administration, that Outlaw and Kenney had nothing to do with granting the final approval to launch tear gas.

After the hearing yesterday, Perri declined comment. But in a July 31, 2020 interview with Big Trial, Perri staked out a position from which there is no retreat.

"We look forward to the opportunity to present everything that we've learned in a courtroom," Perri told Big Trial. And, after all that evidence is presented, Perri stated, "There is no doubt in our minds that Officer Nicoletti will be exonerated." 

One reason for optimism is Krasner's record when he goes after cops. So far in 52 felony indictments of cops, when it comes to winning convictions, Krasner is 0 for 52. But the indictment of a cop always draws a big headline. 

In my previous interview with Perri, I asked him if he had heard what I had been told by police sources, that on the day of the Vine Street Expressway protests, when Deputy Police Commissioner Wilson was talking on the phone with Police Commissioner Outlaw, that there were witnesses standing beside both Wilson and Outlaw at the time who overheard their conversation.

"We are aware of the same information and we are taking all steps to confirm the accuracy of that information," Perri said. "That appears to be accurate on its face based on her [Outlaw's] own statements."

Hey all of you mayoral aspirants over at City Hall. Wake up; here's an issue  you can run on -- treachery in high places.

When it came to teargassing the protesters on the Vine Street Expressway, instead of owning up to what they had done, both Kenney and Outlaw lied to the public,  by concocting a phony alibi for the purpose of saving their own hides.

12 comments

  1. Winton Singletary always a stand up guy!! God bless!! Thanks for your work Ralph.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unlike Outlaw and the Jim Kenney! So incompetent. So corrupt.
      In the immortal, sage lyrics of Jonelle Monae's song "Turn Tables":
      " I keep my hands dirty, my mind clean
      Got a new agenda with a new dream, uh
      I'm kickin' out the old regime (AKA Jim Kenney and Outlaw)
      Liberation, elevation, education
      (Jim Kenney and Damyell Outlaw), you a lie
      But the whole world 'bout to testify
      I said, the wholе world 'bout to testify
      And the tables 'bout to
      T-t-tablеs 'bout to

      Delete
  2. Great Post Ralph...Hoping that Attorney Perri keeps his knives sharpened and continues to carve Kenney, Outlaw, and Krasner in a Pre Thanksgiving Feast.

    Assuming that Officer Singletary testified before the Internal Affairs Unit and made declarations implicating Commanding Officers, will Outlaw and Kenney be called as Witnesses by the Defense and if they refuse to appear is not that sufficient grounds to declare a mistrial, and expose Their Nefarious Plot, as despicable as the Rioters they inspired and helped to orchestrate?

    Jason Brando

    ReplyDelete
  3. Winton is a class act who has earned and enjoys the respect of every member of the PPD who has met or worked for him. A gentleman in every respect.

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  4. Winton Singletary is an outstanding police commander & a great all around guy. I had the distinct honor of working for him in SWAT & I can assure you the man leads with honor & integrity. He has the respect of all street cops & I am glad to see a higher police official show a pair of balls & come forward & tell the TRUTH! He is risking the rest of his career in promotions when the D party sees he did not "Play the Game" they play! They will use their power and exact revenge upon him if they can pull it off. Winton Singletary would be the best man for the Commissioners job if Philadelphia politicians really wanted to turn things all the way around!

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  5. Winton Singletary and Chris Binns have honor and integrity and are excellent Police Officers and human beings. I cannot say the same for Outlaw and Kenney. As for Wilson,he spent his whole career trying to jam up other cops. I don't feel sorry for his cowardly ass one bit. I hope he gets caught up in his lies and loses his job.

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  6. Kenney lies all the time, covers up fraud, waste, and abuse.

    Q: How do you know Jim Kenney's lying?
    A: It's easy! It's Jim Kenney!
    That is all.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jim Kenney is like Pontius Pilot - he washes his hands of the issue. Such a cowardly Mayor is Jim Kenney:
    From The Inquirer:
    The decision of whether and when to use “less than lethal munitions,” which includes tear gas, was left to police supervisors on the ground, Abernathy said. Kenney was not involved in specifically authorizing the use of tear gas on protesters who marched onto the Vine Street Expressway on June 1, a city spokesperson said, and learned of the incident shortly after it happened.

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  8. "... Outlaw has repeatedly ignored requests to be interviewed by the Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit regarding their investigation into the teargassing..."

    The city mandate has always been that a member of the Philadelphia Police Department (and one would assume that Commissioner Outlaw is a member) MUST consent to be interviewed regarding police action, conduct and decisions made in the performance of one's duties. In the past, failure to do so resulted in termination of employment and dismissal from the department. Is the Commissioner held to a different standard than that used to impel, judge and discipline all other members of the PPD? The last time I checked it was my understanding that ACCOUNTABILITY is for all who work in public service and employment (except select attorneys in the Office of the City Solicitor (Daniel Cantu-Hertzler, Craig Straw), the Inspector General (Alexander DeSantis) of the City of Philadelphia and the Chief Integrity Officer (Sarah Steveson) of Philadelphia).

    Well, there is an appropriate and established alternative, another city department responsible for the review and investigation of police conduct and decision-making, i.e., the Police Advisory Commission. The Board of the PAC has always shown a willingness and eagerness to involve themselves in matters of importance and controversy and it is clear that the Commissioner's decision NOT to be interviewed relative to a matter that has significant legal, criminal and civil consequences (NOT for the Commissioner but for those who follow her directives and orders) is extremely important and critical for many reasons, including Police Officer Nicoletti's active re-prosecution which derives directly from the teargassing directive and decision-making by senior management in the PPD, including the Commissioner. I am confident that the Board Chair of the PAC Ronda Goldfein, Esquire, would be very willing and eager to take on such an important, relevant and substantive police allegation and issue re the teargas order used in the protests last year.

    Finally, a remaining alternative is to contact the Counsel to the Philadelphia Police Department and Special Advisor (attorney) to Police Commissioner Outlaw. It is reasonable to expect that such internal PPD counsel is uniquely situated and qualified to render a legal opinion which is in the best interests of the members of the Philadelphia Police Department and the citizens of Philadelphia.

    Michael Skiendzielewski
    Captain (Retired)
    Philadelphia Police Dept.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Welcome to Corruptadelphia! Where corrupt politicians and now the Police Commissioner and Mayor have joined the ranks! Kenney probably isn't sleeping a wink trying to remember what conversations he had on his phone. Doc is toast! Hennon is toast. Up next? Doc u and your punkass nephew Fiocca!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kenney incubates and cultivates local Trumps!
      Sleazy pols like Jim Kenney is how developers and assorted billionaires get so rich!I

      Delete
  10. Time is money. As a Ralph supporter, I know the time invested in bringing this information to the public. The other NEWS outlets refuse to report the important issues. I personally do not possess the acumen to make a fund raising page. If anyone has the knowledge please do. Lets support Ralph who uses his time to support us.

    ReplyDelete

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