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Video Released of Suspected Cop Assailant

Video Released of Suspected Cop Assailant

Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix

August 18, 2010

PHILADELPHIA – Police released surveillance video Wednesday morning of a shoplifting suspect who assaulted an officer inside a South Philly pharmacy Tuesday night.

Police declared “Officer down!” at 5:41 p.m. at the Rite Aid at 15th Street and Moyamensing Avenue.

Lt. Douglas Stanford, a 29-year veteran, came to the Rite Aid to perform a routine security check and then sign a log, said Chief Inspector Scott Small.

Employees told the Stanford that a man had taking items and putting them into a bag, Small said. The suspect had been in the store for about a half-hour going up and down aisles, according to video surveillance, Small said.

“He was definitely on a shopping spree,” said Dep. Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel.

Stanford stopped the suspect and “a tussle ensued,” Bethel said.

Outside the store, the man flipped Stanford onto his back and fell on top of him. Stanford, 52, suffered three broken ribs and a possible bruised lung, Bethel said. He was rushed by a medic unit to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Initially, Stanford complained of extreme pain and “was not able to catch his breath,” Small said, leading some fellow officers to believe he might have suffered a heart attack. He was first reported in critical condition as he arived at the hospital.

Stanford, who is married with three teenage kids, was later upgraded to stable condition and was expected to make a full recovery, Bethel said.

Several surveillance cameras recorded the suspect shoplifting and the altercation. Edited video was expected to be released Tuesday night.

Craig Lord, 30, who lives in the neighborhood, was crossing the street when the fracas broke out.

The suspect “kind of body slammed the guy,” Lord said.

As a police helicopter circled overhead, Jeff Sposaro, 29, said he was with his two children on a playground across the street at Marconi Plaza when the altercation erupted.

Sposaro happened to glance in the direction of the Rite Aid.

“What I saw was feet go up in the air,” he said. The officer “was slammed to the ground.”

Moments later a number of officers descended onto the scene.

“They all came flying in every direction,” he said.

Nicole Chambers, 16, said she saw the police converging on the Rite Aid and went to investigate.

She said she saw the officer laying down inside the store, just past the entrance. A responding officer removed the Stanford’s vest and belt.

Stanford howled in agony, “screaming, holding his side,” Chambers said. “Every time they moved him a certain way he started screaming.”

Sposaro, who is 6-foot-2 and 280 pounds, described the assailant as “twice the size of me.”

Police gave a more conservative estimate, describing the suspect as about 6-foot-2, about 250 pounds, between 35 and 40 years old and African American. He sported a beard and mustache and was wearing a black and white shirt and black capri pants.

He fled the scene on a 10-speed bicycle.

Police are still searching for the attacker, who was described as a black male, 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet 1inch tall, about 200 pounds and between the ages of 30 and 40. He was reported to be wearing a striped shirt, black sneakers, black and white shorts or Capri-style pants down to about his knees and a baseball cap.

Anyone with information on his identity or whereabouts should call 911.

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