Philadelphia officer shown deleting cellphone video of arrest charged with tampering
"There's tampering with evidence here, and it kills," a lawyer said of Officer Tyree Burnett's body camera footage. "It harms."
A Philadelphia officer who appeared to delete video footage of an arrest from a suspect’s cell phone has been apprehended himself, charged with evidence tampering, obstruction of justice and official oppression.
Jacob Giddings says that he was sitting in a vehicle talking with a friend on March 23 when an officer came up and asked him for identification, and then opened his car door. His attorney, Lennon Edwards, said Giddings told Officer Tyree Burnett he was going to record the moment.
“The moment that he says that, the officer begins to pull him out of the vehicle, you see his phone drop,” Edwards told ABC 6 News.
As previously reported, Giddings was charged with one count of drug possession after cops found marijuana on Giddings during the arrest. According to the report, he suffered minor cuts to his wrist from the handcuffs and was treated at the local hospital.
Edwards said his client had an outstanding warrant of which he was not aware, and Burnett then arrested him and seemingly deleted the video of their encounter from Giddings’ cellphone. The act was captured on Burnett’s body camera.
“There’s tampering with evidence here, and it kills,” Edwards told a local CBS affiliate. “It harms. It harms the community.”
Giddings is suing the Philadelphia Police Department, and he’s seeking monetary damages.
In addition to his arrest, Burnett has been suspended for 30 days and is expected to be terminated by Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw at the end of his suspension.
Burnett is a four-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department.
It is unclear if he’s been charged with a felony or misdemeanor. In Pennsylvania, tampering with evidence can be charged as either, and a state felony conviction could result in a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The Philadelphia Police Department is the fourth largest police force in the United States, containing more than 6,600 sworn members and 800 civilian personnel. Its annual budget is upwards of $700 million.
This year, the City of Brotherly Love launched an anti-violence spending plan, allocating $13 million to a 911 mental health response program and mobile crisis team that will still rely on law-enforcement involvement.