Independent Lens


Part 2 | Philly D.A. | Episode 2

Krasner and his team battle for access to the complete police misconduct files as an angry public demands the District Attorney release the names of officers deemed unfit to testify in court. Meanwhile, tensions boil between new Assistant District Attorneys and seasoned veterans in the juvenile unit over new juvenile sentencing alternatives. How hard can the new guard lean on the old to change?

AIRED: April 20, 2021 | 0:55:45

announcer: Previously, on "Philly D.A."...

- Voters in Philadelphia have chosen a progressive

as their new district attorney.

- Krasner's campaign themes

have made him a hero to some and a bum to others.

- I think he'll be a disaster.

anchor: Dozens of people employed by

the district attorney's office shown the door today.

- I'm one of the few survivors.

Almost everybody's gone. So that's kind of sad.

- This experiment has to succeed.

Krasner: Anybody who's dealt with this office knows

that there are secrets.

We need to find out where the secrets are.

[background chatter]

[police radio chatter]

[children laughing]

- Ladies and gentlemen,

it's show time.

[cheers and applause]

[soft music]

[whistle blows]

[epic music]

[dramatic chords]

[dramatic end chords]

[motorcycle engine revving]

- New tonight, the D.A.'s office

keeps a "do not call" list

about police accused of wrongdoing.

- A list of officers so troubled,

prosecutors will not call them to testify.

Corruption. Child sex abuse.

Drunk driving. Assault. Domestic abuse.

Drug dealing. Mishandling evidence.

Lying to authorities.

- Police take a oath.

You give 'em a gun and a badge and arrest power.

You expect that, you know, the least they can do

is tell the truth and be honest, be trustworthy.

There are police officers on that "do not call" list

who are so untrustworthy

that they can't even be called to testify.

[dramatic music]

- Any officer whose ability to testify credibly

is compromised is of great concern to us,

even prior to the list.

The last thing we want is an injustice,

in any direction.

But these are things that are unfolding right now,

so it's,'s something I really can't speak

with any kind of like finality to.

- A half century ago, the Supreme Court ruled

that prosecutors are required

to disclose information that may hurt their own cases,

because it's in the interest of justice.

That means prosecutors must tell the defense

if key witnesses, including police officers,

have a record of dishonesty.

- I've been here ten years already,

so finding that list was a bit of a shock.

Doesn't even feel real.

I wouldn't think that anyone

would bury information like that.

- To me, the story is how the prior administration

wasn't disclosing the misconduct to the defense

when defendants were being accused of crimes.

"Made false--a police officer made false reports

in a police report, and they say don't disclose?

That's incomprehensible to me.

- The truth is this office, before we came in,

was basically a cover-up organization.

I have seen an email, in a prior administration,

from the first assistant to another high-level supervisor,

about how we know that there are

these problematic officers involved in these cases.

Let's hurry up and try to get guilty pleas

without telling defense counsel about the problems.

You're actually talking about an office

dedicated to violating the Constitution,

and we are not that.

[quiet music]

- This list of corrupt police officers--

those who have been under investigation

or found guilty for misconduct--

there's about 24 names on it.

Which, actually, from the Black community,

we find hard to believe that there's only 24 cops

that are under investigation. [applause]

The point is that we need that list

to facilitate the release of all of those

who have been convicted and imprisoned

as a result of prosecutorial misconduct.

- You have to understand, I didn't write that list.

That list was written by a prior administration.

A lot of that list

will be coming out very likely next week,

certainly within about ten days.

So looking at the list,

there are a lot of bad things here,

but in terms of making sure that a trial is fair,

the most important things have to do with lying,

stealing, being an unreliable witness.

So what we have to do is we have to see

what is this shortlist that the old guard left behind

before we build something real?

Hey, I'm sorry to make you wait.

All right. Let's talk.

- What I want you to do is go through the list

and tell me who you think we are gonna say

is a "do not call." Lying is "never call."

The other ones-- it just kind of depends.

It's gonna be more of a case-by-case basis

is what I think.

- It's just that they're also being arguably deceptive

about what they did.

I mean, nobody writes up police paperwork to say,

"And then I lost my cool and busted his nose."

It's always, "Then he fell,

and..." - Mm-hmm.

- What do you do

when an officer's charged with burglary?

"Improper sexual touching... by a supervisor."

- The past administration there was, like,

a ton of [bleep] on some of these cops,

but they only selectively included

a little bit of information.

So as we go back and look at the records,

and if there's nine other reasons

why you might want to say "do not call,"

I'll show it to you.

- Okay.

"Aids and abets a prostitution escort business."

Mm-hmm. "Lying during departmental investigation."

Oh, my goodness.

What do you do with fighting at a wedding reception?

It's Philly!

[soft, somber music]

- Officer, do you swear to tell the truth,

the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

- I do. - Have a seat.

With every new police academy class,

the D.A.'s office is invited to come assist

with their courtroom training.

We go through mock hearing exercises.

The goal is to make police officers

more comfortable with the system,

and you know, what are expectations are.

- We received information that it was a burglary in progress.

As we arrived on scene, we noticed no physical signs

that the door was actually broken into.

As we got inside, we noticed five gentlemen,

and I noticed a gun in somebody's waistband.

I never recovered that gun, but I have reason to believe

that he shook it into other places.

- You said there was a firearm right?

- I believe there was a firearm...

- Now you believe there was a firearm.

- Yes, sir. - My client here,

he shook it down his leg, and the firearm disappeared?

- I wouldn't say shook it down his leg.

- Where did it go?

- Where did it go, sir? - Yeah.

- I never recovered it, but at the time, I detained him

and had him sitting,

so I wasn't worried about the firearm.

- I have nothing further.

- So you were doing great on direct.

I wouldn't really add additional information.

Like, you started trying to guess, like

what happened with the gun. You guys have anything?

- The truth is the most important thing.

We would much, much rather you say,

"I don't remember,"

rather than try to kind of make it up,

'cause it's gonna go bad.

Wellbrock: A busy officer could have

like 100 open cases at a time,

and they're in that court every day.

There are a lot of cases in our system

where the sole evidence against the defendant

is a single police officer.

If you have a police officer getting up there that said,

"Here are the drugs I took out of that guy's pocket,"

that whole trial could take 15 minutes,

and that's a criminal conviction

on someone's record.

Now, if you work at Dairy Queen,

like I did in high school, and you lie at work,

maybe it's not the end of the world.

But if you're a police officer,

and someone's liberty is at stake, it matters.

- I don't have a police officer

running over here telling me

every time there's been a problem.

I don't have them saying,

"Here's the key to our personnel files."

Appreciate it. The police department

gave a lot more information

before Larry Krasner was elected as the D.A.

There was a real comfort in doing that,

because the information came, and it sat.

And then, all of a sudden,

it stopped coming over in November.

- We're missing a word here. [murmurs]

"Not disclosed to defense counsel."

- I really think that they were already

changing the way they were doing things

in anticipation of him walking in through the front door

on January 2nd of 2018.

[phone keypad beeps]

[line ringing]

Hey, Lieutenant, I don't want to drive y'all crazy,

but just in my experience, it's always so important

to be able to look at the original,

because copies don't always come out real clear.

And I want to make sure we're not missing something.

Right. Yeah, so you guys would make us a copy,

and you would give us a certification

that you're giving us a true and complete copy

of the entire file.

I like it. I like it.

Thank you. You too. Bye-bye.

I feel like I'm getting the runaround from 'em,

but he was very nice.

- It's fine.

[phone rings]

[beep] - District Attorney's office.

- Hi. - The last few weeks

have been pretty intense.

After Larry asked people to resign,

tensions immediately flared.

People were fearful that they would be next.

- I cracked a joke at my going-away party

at the public defender's office--

the worst part of my day

was gonna be going up and down the elevator.

Totally true. 100% true.

There was just this overwhelming negativity

and awkwardness.

What am I gonna say?

I can't say anything to the people

whose friends all just got fired,

and they all think Larry's a dick.

He did need to do a house cleaning. He did.

- So nice to meet you guys. I'm Dana Bazelon.

I'm senior policy counsel.

People don't like to change the way they do things.

And they certainly don't like to be told by outsiders

that the way that they do things is wrong.

So I have just been trying to be so nice to everyone.

Like, so nice.

- Larry's not gonna allow them

to do things the same old way,

so get with the program, or get to stepping.

- I've been in the juvenile unit

in the D.A.'s office for the past 13 years.

Juvenile's always been a little bit

on its own little island, which has been lovely.

Hopefully that will continue.

- A key leadership hire within the D.A.'s office.

- Bob Listenbee is the new

First Assistant District Attorney.

He plans to work on juvenile justice reform.

- This man essentially ran Juvenile Justice

for Barack Obama and Eric Holder.

- Hey, morning. - Good morning.

- I've been working with young people

for most of my adult life.

My first work with them was actually in 1969,

which goes back a long ways.

Here in Philadelphia, you can be charged with shoplifting

and end up going into placement.

These are dangerous facilities.

Some of our kids get hurt or even killed

in some of these facilities.

You don't take kids charged with misdemeanors

and put them in detention centers.

- When I entered the delinquency system

I was only 13 years old.

My mother thought I would be safe.

She didn't realize that I would be abused,

strip-searched, mistreated,

or I wouldn't be able to continue my education.

- I got ten punches from a guard

for not doing the school work.

[somber music]


Listenbee: 3/4 of the kids in placement

are African-American kids or Hispanic kids.

Very few white kids are going into placement.

Kids who are going into our system,

they come out often worse than when they went in.

You have to recognize

that the prosecutor holds a lot of the cards.

What the prosecutor will recommend

will often be followed.

Harvey: We don't have a perfect system,

but we have a decent enough system

to get services available.

We have treatment programs. We don't call them prisons.

These kids are removed from home,

and that's not to be taken lightly.

As prosecutors, you take that into consideration.

Does this child need to go to a facility?

Have you tried all options in the community?

I have three teenagers, so I know

exactly the kind of issues that these kids are going through.

Which I think is pretty crucial,

because I think, if you're not used to

being around kids or teenagers,

you're gonna kind of write them all off.

Kids are kids, and you want to see them succeed,

and you want to give 'em a chance.

- I value the people

who are working in our juvenile unit.

I've tried cases against them in court,

but they worked under an administration

that did not have a mandate

from the people to change the system.

- I've known Bob almost 20 years.

When he came here I was excited,

because we always had a really wonderful working relationship.

I always felt respected and appreciated by Bob.

There's no doubt.

- Good morning. - I really appreciate

you guys putting together the dashboard

that summarizes the data for juvenile court.

But when you look at the number of placements,

they're going up.

And I think we have a lot to do about it,

so I want to reduce the population

at the detention center by two kids a day.

What are we doing to accomplish that? Lisa?

- So we tried to go through and change

how we handle the morning lists.

I brought an example just to show, like,

we have all these kids--

- Is this gonna reduce the kids to two a day?

- That we can control? - That we can control.

- I know that's your goal.

I would like to say sure. Let's see how this works.

- Meghan? - We've done what we think

we can do. - What do you think?

- I think it's a good first step to say two a day.

It depends on what kids are on your list.

So it could be that there's a list

where we have everyone who are fine with releasing.

It could be that next day that we have super serious crimes,

and maybe there aren't that number.

- Can I just say something?

I do not buy the inherent assumption

that you all are making that kids in Philadelphia

are worse than kids all over the state of Pennsylvania

and worse than kids all over the country.

Kids all over the country and kids all over Pennsylvania

are being released and not sent to placements

as much as kids in Philadelphia are.

Why is that?

It's because it's our culture and our practice,

and that's what we've been doing now, for years and years.

And we gotta change that.

We can't just continue with the status quo.

Our assumptions are the things

that are keeping kids in placement longer.

Our assumptions. Not somebody else's.

The people sitting around this table.

- Look, Bob, let me ask you. I mean, what do you see

that we're not doing that you want to see?

Because we're really kind of at a little bit of a standstill

of knowing who our population--

who are the kids that are being held.

What do you think we're missing, I guess,

when it comes to that population?

- There's no justification for what we're doing, guys.

Really there isn't, you know,

except we've been doing it for a long time.

And that's not a good enough justification.

It really isn't.

If you want to know what it's like to look at a kid

whose life has been just destroyed

by us in a system, you know, I know them.

I see them when they get on the adult side.

I've gone over and tried some of their adult cases,

and, you know, they say, "Well, where did we go wrong?"

We went wrong because we...

Just hold.

We've gone wrong because we haven't changed the system

fast enough to address their issues.

Some of these kids I've known for 10 or 15 years.

And we just haven't addressed their problems.

We have not addressed their problems.

They come into our system, and we just push 'em through.

We can't do that anymore.

[soft, dramatic music]

- Pab, let's do your hair.

It's that Puerto Rican hair.

When I was a kid, that was the same thing.

Over the sink, do my hair.

But we didn't have gel back then,

so it was just wet, and it'd be poof, you know?

- He's a little child.

When they were growing up he would say,

"I'm gonna be a Marine and a cop, just like my dad."

And my daughter will say, "I'm gonna be a cop too."

Now they both say, "We're not doing that,"

'cause we're constantly sitting here during dinner

talking about cop stuff

and things that happen throughout the day.

- And then every piece of advice

leads to somebody dying.

[Maria laughs]

"You can't go to the movies,

because people get killed there."

[both laughing]

- Love you. Have a good day. Be good.

- Bye, bae.

[police radio chatter]

- Platoon.

Draw. Weapon.

- Sir, 2 platoon is formed and ready for inspection.

- Everything good. - Sir.

- Holster your weapons.

Replace the magazine.

- At ease.

We just went over to [indistinct].

We're up by 50 guns that we've recovered.

Right now we are leading the city in gun confiscations,

so thank you all for the work that you're doing.

We want to make an impact on those shootings,

then we gotta get those guns off the street.

They're still out there.

We had a shooting at Broad and Lehigh right now.

The shootings are on the uptick again, so in everything you do,

no matter what the assignment is,

just use extreme caution.

Does anybody have anything for me?

All right. Thank you.

One of the concerns for some officers

is how their name gets on that D.A.'s list.

Ready? - Yes, sir.

- Nobody wants to work with a bad cop,

but you have good officers who might have had some mishap

or something that wasn't interpreted properly,

some personal issue that puts them on this list.

What are we taking? 24?

Now you got a good cop who becomes disgruntled.

Says, "You know what? I'm done. I'm just not gonna go out there

and hunt, you know, and make those arrests."

And when you tie those guys down,

or when you get them to over-think,

it's the community who's gonna suffer.

025. Does he have an apprehension?

I need address, please.

[siren whoops]

[soft music]

- There's been a circling of wagons

that protects police misconduct

when it comes to the police department.

And what we have right now

is had a wagon leave the circle.

- There's never been a clear policy that we,

on the outside, have been able to discern,

from the Philadelphia District Attorney's office.

Sometimes things are disclosed,

sometimes they're not,

and what we hope to do is establish a workable policy

that complies with the United States Constitution.

They've had over 50 years to get it right by now,

and they haven't.

- You got long arms. We're good.

- Yep. - Yeah.

- The list that came out before seems to have, I think,

three categories of police officers.

There's officers who seem to have problems

with telling the truth.

There's officers that seem to be abusive and beat people up.

And then there's other.

- We are gonna have more categories...

- Oh, good. - Than that.

Typically, most offices, in addition to figuring out

what goes on the list, they also have policies about

when you take people off the list.

I don't think it's as black and white as that.

- Well, it actually is black and white.

I think that, once they're on, they stay.

- Oh, well, you're saying something totally different

than what I'm saying. - Yeah. I understand that.

- Okay. Okay. - No, I know you're saying--

- And I don't know that I agree with you on that.

I don't know that I believe that,

once you put somebody on the list

that they stay on the list forever.

You know, let's take a good cop who just screwed up

and got a DUI.

I think you want them to feel like their name

could come off the list, at some point.

We've got to keep, as much as possible,

some goodwill going with these folks to get their buy-in

so hopefully, we get the really bad,

nasty [bleep] out, and y'all get it,

and you do with it what you think you can in a courtroom.

- I've been a public defender now for 40 years,

and I've been doing issues involving police misconduct

since 1995.

The federal government indicted

a series of police officers for misconduct.

anchor: Six Philadelphia officers have pleaded guilty.

They planted phony evidence, stole drugs and money,

sent innocent people to prison.

- I thought that someone needed to reopen all the cases

involving corrupt police officers.

No one had ever done that before.

Unfortunately, the district attorney's office,

while it's supposed to act as a check on abuse by the police,

all too often sees themselves

indebted to the police department.

We went to the police station,

and they brought out 300 file boxes.

- Now, as a result of the scandal,

55 convictions have been overturned so far.

- This is one of the best days of my life.

- So as a result of this D.A.'s "do not call" list,

I filed one mass post-conviction petition

with 6,100 different names on it.

Each one of these people had been arrested by

any of these police officers.

There'll be a number of these cases

where people are in custody-- we'll get them out.

Those number of cases where people are on probation

or parole, and we'll get them off probation or parole.

Same police officer.

Theoretically, if we had all this information beforehand,

the disruption in all theses lives would not have occurred.

- We need to figure out

why are the cops are not sending us

any information, you know, of course--

- Since when is it supposed to be sent?

- We haven't gotten anything from 'em since November.

- Let me just do this.

Let me try to reach Commissioner Ross.

[line ringing]

Hey, Commissioner, how are you? I'm sorry to bother you.

I just wanted to mention two things to you.

Number one--

- The police department has been

working on compiling their documentation,

and I felt like everything was amicable.

They promised that they were gonna get the first round

to me several weeks ago.

All of a sudden, I don't get anything.

They know I'm not gonna let go,

and I just can't believe the police department

would want to be on the wrong side of that.

I just don't understand.

[light music]

- I do want to meet, like about your--

- You can meet with me anytime. - I know, but--

- Stop pretending that it's hard.

I'm not gonna make it hard. Lisa, come on.

- But it is hard. I mean, I can include

Tripp on it, and maybe he'll schedule it.

- Just send an email. - Okay.

You know what I mean, because, like--

- I'm always gonna meet with you period.

- I know you say that, and you're gonna cancel on me.

- I'm not gonna cancel on you. - Okay, well...

- All right.

- See you, Bob.

- So I see you got a lot of files in here.

- I do, so these are the pretrial--

this is the pretrial list from last week

which I have gone through,

file by file. - Mm-hmm.

- I don't understand what the mission

of the juvenile unit is, other than processing files.

We drug test every single one of the defendants,

regardless of whether or not we think

that they have any problem with drugs.

We have them all do a lot of community service.

I mean, it's just like it's sort of like--

it feels like a menu.

- Now you know.

You know a lot more, and it's scary.

It's downright scary.

We're the ones creating the problem in family court,

'cause we're causing kids to be held

when they shouldn't be held. We are doing it.

- I feel like we rope these kids in,

and then they just end up getting placed,

because they can't-- - That's probably

what's happening, so the question becomes

what set of policies do we fashion?

And that's really where you come in,

to help us fashion those list of things

that we need to do in order to make this work.

- Mm-hmm, well, Lisa is supposed to bring more numbers

to the meeting. I mean, I reminded her.

- Let's remind her several times, just have to remind her,

because I've asked for this stuff.

This is the third time around. - I know.

- So I'm not gonna ask again.

I really want the information this time, so--

- Mm-hmm. - I'm at my wits' end,

in terms of being patient to get the information.

I didn't think it was gonna be like that,

because I was very clear about me wanting it.

And the fact it didn't happen is a direct--you know,

it's kind of insubordination or whatever.

- It is. There needs to be an office-wide--

a message about how you respond

to leadership here. - Yeah. I'm nice,

but I'm not gonna be pushed over

on this kind of thing.

There's gotta be some, you know, pretty definitive stuff.

It's gonna be our way or it's gonna be the highway,

in some sense, so-- - Yeah.

All right. I'll see you soon. - Thanks.

- When kids are in trouble,

this idea that the juvenile system is helping--

it's just not always true.

- One kid had a $173 retail theft from Target,

and he didn't even get away with the stuff

that he tried to steal.

And he not only had to, like, pay restitution,

but also was in placement for over nine months.

And his mom died while he was in placement,

and when he got out, there was nowhere for him to go.

- The law gives all prosecutors' offices

a huge amount of power,

but I fundamentally don't buy the idea

that we can fix people in the criminal justice system.

I don't pretend to know what the answer is.

I just kind of feel confident that, like,

what we're doing now is not working that well.

- I think you'd be hard-pressed

to find a prosecutor that didn't say,

"Hey, you know, we could make some changes.

We could, you know, do things better."

- One of our policies...

- A lot of people who come in now,

they see their role as to change the system,

and at a global level,

but that's not helping the person that was robbed

or that person whose house was burglarized.

You can make the changes.

I just think you don't have to destroy the system

to get the results you want.

- It's a big project, partly because

of the history of the city.

City Hall is the center of the city,

and there's only one statue of any recent mayor

which is up near City Hall.

That is a statue of Frank Rizzo.

[cheers and applause]

Rizzo: You're dealing with criminals,

with barbarians.

You're safer in the jungle.

This police department in Philadelphia

could invade Cuba and win.

Krasner: He was a beat cop,

and then he was the Chief of Police.

- Frank Rizzo has been called

the toughest cop in America,

and that reputation has made him a hero

to lower and middle-class whites

who think he may become the toughest mayor in America.

Krasner: In the 1960s, he became the mayor,

and he was brutal and racist.

- Police in the City of Brotherly Love

shoot about 78 people a year,

and about 1,100 complaints of police brutality

are filed there each year.

- Things got so bad that the U.S. Department of Justice

brought a lawsuit against Frank Rizzo.

- Philadelphia today was charged

by the federal government

with permitting police brutality

on a scale that shocks the conscience.

- According to the suit, the victims were

overwhelmingly black or Hispanic.

- When Rizzo left office,

the culture

within the police department was solidified.

- "The Tonight Show" starring Johnny Carson

will be delayed briefly,

in order to bring you the following special broadcast.

- Until today, there was a house in Philadelphia

filled with people who, for years,

confounded everybody.

They call themselves Move.

They tried to live in the city as if it were the forest.

They offended the neighbors first, and then the city.

Today, the city went to move them, and there was tragedy.

- The Move house exploded into flames

soon after a police helicopter dropped an explosive charge

on the row home's rooftop bunker.

anchor: 65 homes were burned to the ground.

Six Move adults and five children were incinerated.

- The entire city block looks like a warzone.

- And the fallout encouraged young Philadelphians

to fight back.

And they went into federal court,

and they were able to win cases.

- No matter how ridiculous it is that there was a weapon,

that there was an assault, that there was an attack,

this is a standard cover-up tactic.

Temin: What's happening now is that

Larry's able to do it on a big scale.

- Well, you know, there's two sides to this.

One is the actual police department,

consisting of living and breathing police officers,

many of whom are people of color.

Many of whom would like

not to have corruption supervising them.

On the other side, you have the Fraternal Order of Police,

which is their union. It's their bargaining unit.

There are roughly 14,000 members.

More than half of them are retired police officers

but are in a position to control its leadership

and therefore control its policies.

It's a voice that is overwhelmingly male,

overwhelmingly white.

The FOP is the voice

of Frank Rizzo's generation of cops.


- It does no one any good to have a dishonest cop

or crooked cop.

It leads to mistrials.

It leads to watering down charges and plea deals.

It leads to prosecutors losing cases outright.

- It's also how guilty people walk.

Guilty people walk because of that.

Voci: So a couple of detectives

conducted an illegal search,

and that severely compromises the strength of the case.

So now, we're losing a homicide case

or maybe losing a homicide case.

[uneasy music]

[police radio chatter]

- A neighborhood was rattled by a shooting this afternoon.

- The 23-year-old man was shot.

He was rushed to and pronounced dead

at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.

[somber music]

- You just had to know him.

Tafari had the most beautiful smile.

This was my boy.

This might sound strange,

but I hear my son in this house a lot.

And I can tell when he with us,

because we still feel his presence.

And, you know, sometimes people can walk in,

and be like, "Well, what's going on?"

And it's nothing that they can understand.


- We received evidence from a defense lawyer

that has two homicide detectives...

Searching a cell phone without a warrant

and then lying about it.

The case law is very clear.

You cannot look through people's phones.

You need a warrant.

They did it literally under the surveillance camera.

Very good quality.

Like, the police misconduct is not usually this clear.

That is Detective Mole, and that is Detective Murray,

and that is what we are alleging

is the defendant's cell phone.

The time stamp says 3:31:45,

and the warrant was signed at 8:00 p.m.

And when the defense lawyer asked Detective Mole,

"Did you look in his cell phone to see if there was, like,

anything there to, like, give you new leads?"

Detective Mole said, "Not yet.

I waited until after we got the warrant."

It's critical evidence in the case.

The cell phone, the messages on the cell phone.

They're like basically just a play-by-play of the murder.

If this case is not provable, the biggest reason is because

these cops didn't give a [bleep] to do it right.

- Can we do a search warrant who the phone belongs to?

- The phone doesn't exist, in the eyes of the court.

The phone doesn't exist, because it was in a pocket,

in pants, in a bag, and we didn't have a warrant.

- All right. - No. I know.

Keep thinking. Never stop thinking.

[ambient background noise]

[ice cream truck tune]

- We still think--I still think about him every day.

Like, it's crazy.

- Like, my brother gone and, like, he having a trial.

And then the bad part about it

is what if, like, we don't get justice for it?

That's just the worst part about it.

- It could cause a whole commotion, like,

if they let the person out. - Yeah.

- My mom will be devastated

if they just let the person run free.

[somber music]

[dog barking]

- Isaac.

- Come on. Where's your sneakers?

- It's upstairs.

- Okay. I'm ready, guys. I'm gonna go to the car.

I'm very anxious just to find out the results.

A lot of prayer.

When you have younger children

it's not easy simplifying things to them.

And if this doesn't turn out for the best...

They have to stand there and hear them say

that the person that murdered your brother

is gonna walk away, 'cause we can't prove it.

We know it, but we can't prove it.

[soft music]

Before I go,

where does the police commissioner stand on this,

in reference to the behavior of the detectives?

What will be done, in this situation?

Not only for my son,

but for every Black man in Philadelphia...

- I cannot speak for him... - For every wrongdoing?

- I can say this. I know they pulled these guys

out of Homicide right away. They're not out on the street.

- So you do me a favor. - Yes.

- The next time you see them

you ask them this question for me,

and this is all I want to know. Some kind of closure. Why?

What benefit did it do for them

to tamper with that evidence?

It wasn't the police officer on the street that picked up

my son's limpless body with 11 bullet holes in it

that took evidence and tampered with it.

But for the detectives that's supposed to be investigating,

to do the right thing for the justice of the city,

to behave that way? Despicable.

- I totally agree with you. I will do anything I can.

- And thank you so much. I appreciate it.

- Listen, I'm happy to talk to you again.

- Listen, these are policies

that we're all in support of, we can all agree to,

we can all train our attorneys on, work with.

Lisa and her team, why don't you guys

walk us through any changes you think need to be made.

- So this was a policy that we thought we had discussed

and you had agreed with us on about

if it's a felony, you gotta call it what it is.

Most of the time this comes out if it's a robbery.

- Robbery. - I may offer simple assault

and theft, right,

but once I bring my victim into court,

I'm gonna move under the robbery,

if that's the appropriate charge.

- My understanding was we walked away from it

where people were comfortable

with the language where appropriate.

- My understanding was it was nixed by Bob.

So I have a hard time going up to a victim and say,

"Hey, I know you were robbed, but rather than robbed,

"I'm just gonna move on that you were assaulted,

and something was stolen from you."

Like that, to me, is--

to us, as prosecutors, is not acceptable.

- Okay. Wait. I'm a prosecutor now, too, so please--

- So we move on the most appropriate charge at trial.

- Whether you described it as a misdemeanor

or a felony doesn't mean anything to the victim.

It means something to you. - It means something

when they step into a courtroom, I'm telling you now.

When I have to bring my victim into court,

have them miss school, and then to say to them,

"I'm not gonna move on the charge that is

the most appropriate charge under the law,"

it's very difficult for us.

I don't want to butcher the law,

and I have a hard time having my prosecutors doing that.

- The only purpose of dinging that kid on the felony

is that it's gonna raise his prior record score.

- So like, we would take total offense to the language

saying that we're trying to go after the highest felony

that we can get. That's--I mean, I'm sorry.

- Insulting. - Almost ridiculous to say.

- Insulting. - So if we did not offer it

at pretrial then-- - No, no, no.

You're talking about F1. The hypothetical is an F3.

- They're two different-- but yes, we do.

Yes, we do.

- It's a robbery.

- Wait. No, no, no.

Let me finish. - This language is saying--

- No. Let me finish. - Carol, let her finish.

- That's not what the community wants to hear, you know.

- I'm out there in the community,

and I talk to them all the time.

I'm a member of those communities,

'cause we're really talking about African-American

communities, for the most part.

And yeah, they will say that the kids are out of control,

but they don't mean that they want the kids

to penetrate the delinquent system.

What they want is they want more rec centers.

- Yes-- - They want more programs.

They want services. They want things.

They want the schools to be better.

They want things for the kids to do, so they can have adult--

- There was this weird thing that happened

where the people who stayed saw themselves

as the progressive people in the office.

It was like they were the progressive people,

in the old world, and we, like, took the paradigm,

and took it, and put it someplace else.

We weren't even having the same conversation

that they had been having before.

- If a kid's selling drugs, a kid's selling drugs.

It is what it is. Like, I'm not taking it

and making it to be a bigger deal

or a lesser deal than what happened.

Whatever the reason is,

it's easy to paint us as a big, bad prosecutor,

'cause it fits what they want to believe about us,

rather than really what the reality of the situation is.

We're Philadelphia. We have a lot of crime.

We have a lot of guns,

so I think just to say prosecutors

are causing mass incarceration here

would be an easy way out.

- All right, so should we do the drug testing thing here,

like, we shouldn't drug test kids...

- But that they're-- - Just because?

- That same kid could be at home with his mother

making all kinds of mistakes,

and we just gotta wait for 'em to grow out of it.

- Right. - And we gotta love 'em

through it without being shipped off someplace.

- Okay. I love talking to you, Ebony,

because you make me feel like I'm less crazy

for thinking the things that I think,

'cause you think them too.

And then I'm like, "Okay, well,"

but from my perspective, what I do see is, like,

these meetings where we're hearing the same things

about, like, "This is not my problem.

These are the obstacles."

Like, it just seems like there isn't a lot of actual

progress being made.

- I think what might be beneficial--

patience and empathy.

- Empathy. Okay.

- And empathy, because here's a person

who has done this work for probably her entire career.

And literally, in one election, have someone say,


30 years for nothing.

You're actually hurting kids.

You're actually ruining lives.

You're actually in the way.

I don't know. That might be hard.

And so a little bit of empathy around that.

- Okay.

[background chatter]

- There's probably no more sacred obligation

that a prosecutor has than to turn over things

that are helpful to the defense,

in one way or another, to make it a fair process.

Now that we have set up this police misconduct database,

and now that we have policies

of turning over this information

and turning it over early,

this is a fundamental, radical change

in how the Philly D.A.'s office has operated.

- If you had subpoenaed before, you know, 2:00 p.m.

that Friday, or anytime before that,

it wouldn't have caught these officers that were added,

as of Monday.

As best we can, we try and mark front officers

that have like a large amount of cases,

but we're not gonna catch 'em all.

In order to kind of modernize the way

in which we subpoena officers, the tech guys

put together something called D.A. Workstation.

If you happen to subpoena anyone

who is on the police misconduct disclosure list,

you would get a big red warning at the top.

If it's a presumptive officer we're not calling,

the subpoena won't go through.

- We've got to make sure that prosecutors are getting

all the information about a case from the police.

Then the defense is getting all the information

from the prosecutors. And as Dr. Phil says,

"People who have nothing to hide hide nothing at all."

- We showed the entire trial division

the damaged goods folder on the screen.

Hopefully that gave them some perspective

as to what we're working with.

- Yesterday was one of the few times

where me not knowing many people

was a real advantage,

because I didn't know these people well enough

to know how ugly they were being to me.

- Yeah. - Andrew did.

Andrew was getting really angry with them,

because he said the hostility was...

- Yeah. - One of the issues

was the prosecutors were frustrated

about us disclosing to the defense so early.

They don't like the idea of the disclosure being made

before the preliminary hearing,

because preliminary hearings don't deal with credibility.

I don't agree with them, but there is a very easy,

workable solution to accommodate for their concerns

and not give up what we're trying to do.

And that is we would--

- No. - No?

- No. We believe in transparency.

They're gonna have to get used to it.

Their reaction to this comes out of a decades-long culture

of not just holding the information back,

holding it back forever.

Shredding the information. Having two files.

Destroying the information. I mean, that is a culture

that needs to have its spine snapped.

And the best way I can think of to do that

is to just make it really clear

that that will not be tolerated, at any level.

The other aspect of it is this.

Officers make a ton of money off of overtime,

and they make the overtime off of testifying.

So what we're doing by revealing this stuff early

and making it an issue with their supervisors early

is we're getting some of the police department supervisors

to think twice about whether, you know,

Officer X here who helped his...

- Girlfriend run a prostitution business.

- His girlfriend run a business of prostitution--

whether he might need to be in the "cat up a tree" unit

instead of in some kind of patrol unit

where he's gonna go to court a lot.

- It helps everybody. - Listen...

- My point of view. - We might affect

actual police misconduct,

'cause they might get the message

that if they do something, it's gonna be public.

Very public.

- We've requested that the police department

send us information, and they just got back to us.

I don't know how accurate any of this stuff is.

Part of the problem is we're not getting original documents.

They instituted a redaction policy,

not in connection with any kind of conversation with us.

It just shows that they don't trust us with the information.

The bottom line is this does not have

half of the relevant information we need.

- So I'm late because a friend who's a judge in Texas

is in Philadelphia, and he wanted to have lunch.

So I hardly ever go to lunch, so--and I didn't.

You're looking at me like I was drinking or something.

I wasn't drinking. [laughter]

- Do you want to be? - I wouldn't mind,

leading into this, maybe.

- So they sent all this to us in a way that they felt

we were not going to be able to sort it.

Like, we sent them an index.

They didn't respond back to the index.

- We were at least being nice.

And you told me not to be.


I'm just, like... is this just untenable?

I mean, is this just something

where we say what they've done is untenable,

and that we're not gonna try to process it?

I mean, I gotta ask that question.

I mean, this is so ridiculous what they're doing, right?

- Yeah. They're just messing with us.

And some of these officers testified yesterday, so...

- You know, at what point do you kind of

throw down the gauntlet and say,

"Let's do this a different way,"

rather than trying to do it together, as partners?

So I'm struggling with that.

- We need to get extremely broad information from them.

We need to turn it over redacted,

but we need to get it un-redacted.

They can't be the judges of what we're allowed to see.

They will always--they cannot help professionally,

but always shade it in favor of non-disclosure.

- Mm-hmm. - That is totally unacceptable.

- Yeah. - That is not the way

this is supposed to work, and we have

an actual obligation to go after them to get it,

even if they don't want to give it up.

Although I think the much bigger picture here

is called the F-O-P.

So, I mean, it may ultimately turn out

it's just better to go to war right now.

[background chatter, whooping]

- Philadelphia's police union has filed a lawsuit

against the city's district attorney, mayor,

and police commissioner.

- The union's attorney says the "do not call" list

violates certain rights.

- Including their ability to perform their functions

and their due process rights.

We don't know how an individual police officer

could challenge being included on such a list.

- I don't know. I don't have any kind words

for the district attorney, and he knows that.

Enough's enough. [applause]

- Even though the police department

gave us information that is heavily redacted,

it has enough information to build up our own database.

- If you don't know Larry Krasner,

if you had a dealing with him,

you wind up on that "do not call" list.

- There's about 50 names waiting to go on the list,

because they are officers who have been arrested

and convicted of a crime.

- We have enough officers on that "do not call" list

to invade Cuba. It's really sad.

- There's about another 140 names,

and that's what came from those hidden files.

So the list is gonna double in size

within the next two weeks.

There are some very prolific officers on here

that it's going to shake the office,

including homicide detectives.

- If you're too corrupt to testify in court,

you're too corrupt to patrol the streets.

If you're on that list, you're gone.

- You should be done.

- You will no longer abuse your power,

because you will answer to the people.

And the people will judge you.

- That's right! all: Get off our streets!

Off our streets! Yeah!

Off the streets! Yeah! Off the streets! Yeah!

Off the streets! Yeah! Off the streets!

- We're here to make sure that we send a message

to Larry Krasner that we have the officers' backs.

[cheering, applause]


announcer: This season on "Philly D.A."...

- We have breaking news at this hour.

A Philadelphia police officer has been shot.

- This is capital case. It deserves capital punishment.

- Not one cop's gonna tell you that he's on our team.

- Is there a public safety crisis in Philadelphia?

- "He pulled the gun out

and shot the victim in the stomach and the head."

This was an assassination.

- We are here to talk about mass supervision,

the evil twin of mass incarceration.

- Having done this for 30 years,

I don't like someone telling me what to do.

- I'm on probation till 2027.

"Arrest warrant warning."

I don't know if I'm going back to work

or if I'm going to be going back to jail.

- A Black man has been shot by a police officer.

- You need to argue this, and we need to prove it.

- Arms! - My guys don't trust you

as far as they can throw you. What am I to tell them?

- I suggest you don't shoot unarmed people in the back.

- You're the D.A.

But your job is not just to go after dirty cops.

- The police do their jobs,

lock everybody up,

and Krasner lets 'em out.

- Who was D.A. when there were dozens of people

shot over the weekend? - I was.

- The burden on Larry

is to get people to believe

that this is gonna be better for all of us.

- We all need to get this man

out of the district attorney's office.

- If you're being told by people in law enforcement

that this D.A.'s office will not prosecute,

you're being lied to.

announcer: "Philly D.A." on PBS.


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