On September 3rd, 2010, 29 year old Askia Sabur was standing outside a Chinese takeout restaurant, waiting for an order. Then the police rolled up. Fortunately someone was there with video or Mr. Sabur would likely either be dead or sentenced to prison for a very long time instead of a free man.
The YouTube video shows Sabur on the ground, surrounded by four officers, with one striking him in the head and torso with a baton. Onlookers are heard shouting, "Stop!" and, "You're going to kill him." At one point, the officer pulls a gun and tells the crowd to "back up."
Despite the video and eyewitness accounts, Askia Sabur was charged with multiple felonies.
Sabur was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, and resisting arrest. Vanore said Sabur would also be charged with robbery because he tried to take an officer's gun and baton.Today, more than two years after the brutal assault, Mr. Sabur was found innocent on all counts.
From the Philadephia Inquirer
Courtney Harrop @CourtneyPFB
I am hoping the jury does the right thing in the #AskiaSabur trial. Waiting....verdict is in...waiting for the word..
Dustin M. Slaughter @DustinSlaughter
#AskiaSabur has been acquitted on all five charges. Justice has been done today.
Kenneth Lipp @kennethlipp
Charges including assaulting a Philly police officer MT @DustinSlaughter #AskiaSabur has been acquitted on all five charges.
Man beaten by police is not guiltyAnd from the Philadephia Citypaper.
It took a Philadelphia jury only one hour Tuesday to find a man who was brutally beaten by police not guilty.
Beaten by cops in 2010 video, Askia Sabur found not guilty of beating cops
Today, a jury found Sabur not guilty of aggravated assault, disarming a law enforcement officer, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and resisting arrest.
In closing arguments, Evan Hughes, Mr. Sabur's defense attorney made the case for acquittal.
Hughes' closing echoed the overarching theme of what Sabur's trial ultimately became throughout last week: not so much about a young man's alleged crimes, but the actions of two Philadelphia police officers' perceived brutality, impunity and apparent willingness to effortlessly lie under oath before a jury to protect their reputation and careers. Hughes also alleged that the reason the two officers pulled up to the corner of Allison Street and Lansdowne Ave that night was purely territorial, and had nothing to do with enforcing the law.They did send a message, but justice has not been served. Askia Sabur has already spent two years in jail.
"This is a story about two officers who thought they were above the law. Please, ladies and gentlemen of the jury: send a message that it's not okay for police to treat people like this."
The beating sparked an uproar, local and national media coverage, and was discussed during City Council hearings on police brutality. But... Sabur spent the last two years in jail awaiting trial for the charge of assaulting Leocal's partner, Officer Donyul Williams.No matter even if he sues and wins a large settlement (A civil suit has been filed), he will live the rest of his life with this nightmare. And who knows what kind of potential for brain and head problems could arise because of the beating he received.
The police believe they are above the law, and, even in the rare event when their actions are questioned in a court of law, believe that they can lie with impunity... as one of the officers who assaulted Mr. Sabur, Jimmy Leocal, makes clear.
Leocal evoked during testimony a scene where... the two officers attempted to subdue a wild Sabur who allegedly tried to steal Williams gun...The threat of being videoed beating the living shit out of someone is obviously not enough to stop these violent thugs from continuing doing what they do. The threat of lawsuits which settle for millions of dollars obviously isn't enough for cities to do something to stop their police officers from doing it. The threat of being fired for doing it barely exists. Is anything sufficient?
A September 3rd, 2010 statement Leocal gave to a detective as part of an "after-action report" in no way mentioned Sabur trying to grab an officer's gun or even baton.
According to Leocal, "We were fighting for our lives."
The video, however, clearly showed Officer Williams ((Leocal's partner)) on top of Askia Sabur, who was face down on the sidewalk.
Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 7:40 AM PT: Apparently, despite his acquittal, he is still in jail. I've not been able to find out why this is. This was tweeted just a bit ago.
Dustin M. Slaughter @DustinSlaughter
Leaving Montgomery County prison now after a brief interview with #AskiaSabur. "Truth equips itself with its own vindication," he said.
Krasner said Sabur had an old, open detainer on him from Montgomery County that must be lifted before he can be released.
Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 8:18 AM PT: A bit of info on the investigation into the two officers.
The District Attorney's Office in 2010 cleared Williams of wrongdoing but was still looking at Leocal's actions. Officials in the prosecutor's office were not immediately available to say how or if the Leocal investigation ended.