A Philadelphia judge dismissed assault and other charges Tuesday against two former city police officers who are brothers, stemming from an off-duty encounter in which they allegedly injured a man they mistakenly thought was breaking into cars.
Prosecutors said James Smith, 53, and Patrick Smith, 54, physically confronted a 27-year-old pedestrian with Asperger’s syndrome in a shopping center parking lot in August 2020, leaving him with multiple injuries. The brothers allegedly lied about being part of a town watch.
Municipal Court Judge William Austin Meehan Jr. dismissed all charges against the two ex-officers, citing a lack of evidence.
Attorney Fortunato Perri, Jr., who represents James Smith and whose firm also represents Patrick Smith, said in a statement Tuesday that the charges were dismissed because prosecutors failed to prove a crime was committed. He said both men looked forward to continuing their careers in law enforcement, but it was unclear if either planned to challenge the disciplinary actions related to the charges and seek a return to their jobs.
Patrick Smith retired from the Philadelphia department shortly after the internal affairs investigation began and later went to work as an agent for the gun violence task force run by the district attorney’s office and the attorney general’s office. He was put on administrative duty with pay for the duration of the case.
Philadelphia Police said David Smith was suspended for 30 days with the department’s intention to fire him shortly after the charges were announced.
In a statement Tuesday, District Attorney Larry Krasner said there’s “a disturbing pattern” of judges dismissing charges against police officers during preliminary hearings.
Judges initially dismissed charges against two of the Philadelphia officers accused of excessive physical force during May 2020 protests following the murder by police of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In both those cases, prosecutors appealed to have the charges reinstated.
Krasner said Tuesday his office planned to pursue “all possible avenues for seeking justice” regarding the cases against Patrick and James Smith.