The two candidates for Philadelphia district attorney both say they would prosecute police for on-duty shootings if the evidence pointed to criminal conduct. That would represent a departure from usual practice: The last time a Philadelphia officer was criminally charged for an on-duty shooting was 18 years ago. In the decade from 2006 until early last year, 73 Philadelphia officers were fired and filed grievances, according to a review of public records. Of those, 46 officers were rehired through arbitration, and 27 were not, the records show.
Cases involving officers who were fired and then rehired after appearing before independent arbitrators include:
• 1999: John Herbert, while looking for a man with a gun on a SEPTA train, grabbed an innocent Temple University student by the neck and repeatedly punched him. Herbert later was fired again for an unrelated matter.
• 2003: John Hargraves’ actions resulted in confiscated drug money disappearing. Arbitrator Rochelle Kaplan, who ordered his rehiring, wrote: “The grievant is to be reinstated to his position upon condition that he repays the city the amount that was missing, $1,540. The termination for stealing the money should be expunged from his record.” Hargraves later was fired again for an unrelated matter.
•2004: Anthony Gainer, while off duty, allegedly robbed a prostitute at gunpoint shortly after she performed a sex act on him in his car.
• 2007: Michael Paige was accused of forcing a man to perform oral sex on him in a secluded area of Fairmount Park. A federal jury awarded the man a $165,000 judgment against Paige.
• 2012: Lt. Jonathan Josey became a heavy in a viral video when he was filmed striking a woman at the Puerto Rican Day Parade celebration in Fairhill. Then-Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey fired Josey for using excessive force and for lying on a “Use of Force” report about what occurred.
Mayor Kenney said reforming the arbitration system would be difficult.
“We believe the chances of winning any additional reform on dismissed officers being rehired through arbitration is incredibly small because that reform would have to be made in the [Fraternal Order of Police’s] contract, which, in accordance with state law, is also decided through arbitration,” Kenney said.
John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order Police Lodge 5, did not return calls seeking comment.