A Philadelphia police officer is reportedly facing legal action after deleting a video from a suspect’s phone. On the night of March 23 of this year, the officer, who is identified as Officer Burnett, noticed a pickup truck idling at a gas station for 10 – 15 minutes. The officer ran the plates of the truck and found the vehicle belonged to Jacob Giddings.
According to Burnett, Giddings had an active warrant for assault, which prompted him to approach the suspect. Giddings’ attorney, Lennon Edwards, said that the officer asked Giddings for his identification but did not offer any explanation as to why he was being approached. Edwards maintains that Giddings did not know about a warrant out for his arrest.
At the time of the incident, Burnett was equipped with a bodycam that was recording. According to Edwards, Giddings told the officer that he was going to record the incident and is seen doing so. However, this detail was left out in the police report that Giddings filed, although can be seen
on the bodycam footage.
When the officer asked him to step out of the vehicle, Giddings allegedly began to resist. Burnett used force to pull Giddings out of his vehicle. Amidst the struggle, Giddings drops his phone. Sometime later, Burnett picks up Giddings’ phone and is seen examining its contents. Burnett hands Giddings the phone when he is at the back of the cop car, to which Giddings asks, “Is my video still on there?” Burnett replies, “I don’t know.” Giddings says that the video he had recorded of the initial conversation was deleted from his phone. However, the video of his arrest has been recovered with the help of Giddings’ lawyer through Giddings’ iCloud account.
According to authorities, Giddings was found to be in possession of marijuana during their search. He was charged with resisting arrest and drug possession. He also suffered minor cuts from the handcuffs and was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Giddings has hired lawyers to respond to these charges by suing the Philadelphia Police Department for excessive force and assault, tampering with evidence, false arrest, and malicious prosecution. “What this officer did was deleting evidence. He is essentially tipping the scales of justice in his favor,” said Giddings’ representatives.
Giddings is still being prosecuted, and according to TMZ, he believes that Burnett has not been subjected to any disciplinary action. The officer has been on restrictive duty since April.
The Philadelphia Police have responded with, “This incident is currently under investigation with our Internal Affairs Bureau. The officer involved has been placed on administrative duty status pending the outcome of the internal investigation.” However, they have yet to release any statement with regards to the imminent lawsuit.