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police brutality

Did Philadelphia Cops Use Domestic Violence Call As An Excuse To Beat Up ‘Pussy Faggots’?

Philadelphia: The city of brotherly love? Or the city of police brutality? In a complaint filed with both the Internal Affairs Bureau and the Police Advisory Commission, Luis Berrios claims he and his partner Jason Mendez were subjected to homophobic slurs and excessive violence by cops when a neighbor called to report a domestic disturbance between the two.

When four officers arrived, Berrios says in the complaint, he asked the officers to take Mendez home to sober up, and that he wasn’t interested in pressing charges. Berrios told police Mendez was his brother; Mendez told cops the truth. Shortly after, all hell broke loose, the Philadelphia Gay News reports. And words like “pussy faggot” and instruments like police batons started getting thrown around.

Berrios said he walked into the kitchen when he heard Mendez yelling, “Babe, they’re beating me up,” and returned to see his partner in handcuffs and the officers with their batons drawn. “I asked what they were doing and the one said that [Mendez] cursed at his partner and he told me to back up,” Berrios said. “They told me to just calm down or that I’d be next.” Berrios said he went to his back porch and made a phone call and that, on his way back in, he saw the officers taking Mendez out front and heard one of them say, “Once he hits the snow, he’ll calm down.”

He said the officers threw Mendez face-first into a pile of snow, repeatedly calling him “nigger” and “faggot.” He said one of the officers must have called for back-up, as 10-12 officers eventually arrived on the scene. When Berrios approached and asked the officers to let Mendez up, he said they became confrontational with him.

“I never cursed at them, I never spoke out of line, I didn’t show aggression at all,” he said. “One of them came up and said, ‘Put your hands down’ — I was speaking with my hands because I was excited and emotional — and I asked them to just let me calm down. Jason was in the snow and he was saying he couldn’t breathe and they were just stomping on his ankles and hitting his legs with the batons, calling him faggot. And one of the officers said, ‘If you want to help him, put your hands against the wall, faggot.’”

Berrios said when he complied, the arresting officer, listed in court records as Officer Robert Tavarez, handcuffed him. He said the officer attempted to push him in the snow also, but he resisted, and Tavarez instead pushed him against the police car. “I don’t know what he did with the baton but it felt like he put it between the cuffs and just started twisting it back the opposite way,” Berrios said. “I kept telling him how much it was hurting and he just said, ‘Shut up, pussy faggot.’ I closed my eyes and all I could hear was Jason screaming. And I told him I have a dislocated wrist, and he said, ‘Shut the fuck up, or you’ll have a broken wrist.’ He said, ‘Let me hear you squeal, faggot.’ And I just started screaming in pain and telling them to just take me, to just put me in jail if they wanted to, so he’d stop. I begged the other officers to make him stop and my neighbor was standing there crying because she knew she couldn’t do anything. I was crying and finally just started banging my head against the windshield to try to knock myself out because I was in so much pain.”

The cops then shoved Mendez in the back of their car and, according to his complaint, which notes neither man was read his Miranda rights, began beating him with batons. Both men have previous criminal records: Mendez is serving two years probation after being arrested on drug charges last year, while Barrios is completing a two-year probation stint for retail theft.

After arriving at the precinct, both men were taken to a nearby hospital.

He said Mendez was bruised “from head to toe,” had deep scratches all over his body, about 15 nail marks around this throat and a cut-open mouth, as well as large patches of hair that had been ripped out. Berrios later sought medical attention for frequent swelling and numbness in his hands. Berrios was ultimately charged with simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and possession of an instrument of crime with intent — during the altercation with his partner, Berrios said he struck him with a clothes iron because Mendez was pinning him down and did not realize he was having an asthma attack. Mendez faces charges of simple assault, aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person.

So what’s next? The men have criminal hears Jan. 27 and 28, and the files of the officers involved have been updated to include the complaints the couple filed against them until an investigation concludes whether there was any wrongdoing. And while Barrios is out on bail, Mendez remains in custody.

Do we know all the facts yet? Nope, so it’s certainly too early to start picking sides. And I have a feeling that no matter what the Internal Affairs investigation concludes, there’s going to be a lot of grey area — like how the men didn’t explicitly comply with police orders, but how they were also very likely called “faggots” and had the shit beat out of them well beyond what was necessary to maintain control. As the story develops, I’ll be more interested to know if any other complaints have been filed against these officers.

[photo, not featuring the officers involved]

By:           JD
On:           Jan 22, 2011
Tagged: , , , , , ,
  • 20 Comments
    • Riker
      Riker

      The picture used in this article seems to be another case of copyright infringement by Queerty. If you follow the link to the Flickr account, it says (c) All Rights Reserved for the copyright information. Queerty does not have a valid fair-use exemption in this case.

      See also http://www.queerty.com/ct-supremes-rule-gay-parents-dont-have-to-adopt-their-own-children-20110121

      Jan 22, 2011 at 8:44 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      I tend to believe to story, as it’s filled with unnecessary details not intended to convince but to describe what happened. Hopefully neighbors will come forward with pics/videos and witnesses.

      Jan 22, 2011 at 11:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Francis
      Francis

      Just more police brutality against gay men from police officers. Doesn’t matter if the cities are Philly, Miami, Chicago or Palm Springs, typically gay friendly areas. The police force is generally made up of “macho” bravado types, and they generally beat gay men up for sport, because they can get away with it, and because they are desperate in proving how much of men they are, and lastly, they are simply homophobic. Just a sad, sad story, but it’s something that isn’t going to change because it’s so embedded in police culture, and because the police have such a wall of protection from criticism in this country.

      Jan 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zzee
      Zzee

      @Francis: Reminds me of an old Sarah Silverman joke – COP: Do you know why I’m standing here, m’am? SARAH: Because you got all Cs in high school?

      Intelligent people who want to go into law go to law school, or they go out of their way to downright shine while working the streets in uniform so that they can become detectives and lieutenants. The people – mostly straight men – who are content with being beat cops for the rest of their natural lives are some of the dumbest, easily amused boorish imbeciles living amongst us.

      Jan 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • chpinnlr
      chpinnlr

      @Riker: that is your concern? After reding the article you are worried about the photo?

      Jan 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark D
      Mark D

      I used to live in Philadelphia. Last year I called the police to my then Philadelphia home due to a domestic dispute with my then partner. The police treated us with utter disrespect and contempt. the female officer called us “girls” and suggested we “start acting like men.” It got worse from there. I have lived in Philadelphia all of my adult life. Due to a family emergency, I had to move home for a while. I am seriously reconsidering whether I want to move back, based on the fear that I will never get treated with anything other than contempt from the PDP. They have an awful reputation within the lGBT community in Philly based on their constant harassment and mistreatment of the LGBT community.

      I am inclined to believe what the men said. There is a joke in Philadelphia: “How do you know a Philly cop is lying? His lips are moving.”

      Just Google “Philly,” “Police,” and “Scandal” just to see how bad it is in Philly, not just for the LGBT community, but for the entire city.

      Until Mayor Nutter and Chief Ramsey get serious – and public – about sending these types of officers to jail, I have little belief that the current culture of police misconduct and brutality will continue.

      The only time the PDP has ever changed is as the result of a lawsuit – so I say sue the pants off of them. yes, the City of Philadelphia will stonewall and delay the case. But in the end, they almost always settle, knowing that on each and every jury, will be someone who has felt the sting – or baton – of a Philly police officer.

      Give ‘em hell.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 12:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Adam
      Adam

      This is so sad and heartbreaking. I’m so goddamn tired of GLBT being abused and terrorized by straight people. There are not enough protections available for us at all. It’s sick.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 1:14 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • McMike
      McMike

      It’s a shame cops like this can only be “real men” when they get to hide behind their badge because God knows they’d never have the balls to do otherwise.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 11:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Francis
      Francis

      @Zzee: I remember that Sarah show. It’s so true, though. Beat cops are generally made up of idiots. Usually straight, usually white, usually conservative, typical bar hopping, anti-gay, woman abusing, idiots.

      And yes, Adam, I’m fucking sick of it too, it’s barbaric that people believe that they can just get their rocks off by terrorizing us. The problem with these cops, though, is that fighting back gets you killed. They know this. Which is why they keep doing it, and have done it forever. And the MORE we have raised the issue, have you noticed, the more this is happening. Basically police forces country wide saying: “Remember, we’re police, you faggots. Stay in your place.” Pack herd mentality. It’s homophobic bullshit posturing, but the only ways you can prevent this from happening is having a strong LGBT liaison in these forces, making it known to the higher-ups in whatever city you live in that these abuses are happening, and lawsuits. Unfortunately police forces in many cities flat out ignore the LGBT community out of homophobia.

      I really wish I could say that these situations will change, but they wont. It’s so immersed in police culture, it’s going to take a long, long process to ever wipe away the damage.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jake
      Jake

      @Francis:

      The police have such protection from criticism in this country? Shows how closed minded you are. Gays always claim to be so worldly and gracious but yet you fail to recognize countries where people are actually prosecuted and persecuted daily? Of course I’m not talking about being called “faggot” or anything terrible like that. I’m talking about murder, ethnic cleansing, jihad.. real shit. Not an intoxicated gay couple trying to make a “hate” case and sue the city of Philly. You really think those officers would do that IN FRONT OF WITNESSES?! Yeah right, this is an open and shut case of fraud.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Francis
      Francis

      @Jake: Gay people are prosecuted and persecuted daily, worldwide, Jake.

      And yeah, this is “real shit.” This is a couple being verbally harassed with anti-gay and racial slurs, being physically beaten, and then it being covered up. IF this happened in all the details being described, then yeah, this is major.

      If you are going to start a reasonable conversation, it would be nice if you didn’t start out with an insult “gays always blah blah blah but they aren’t really that.” Pretty much defeats everything.

      In closing, yes, the police have a wall of protection in this country from criticism, which is why they KEEP GETTING BY on beating innocents simply by flashing their badge.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Luis Berrios
      Luis Berrios

      It makes me feel really good to see people reading this article and showing a lot of love and support, this gives me the strength to continue to fight and not only stand up for me or Jason but for everyone whose in the LGBT community and everyone whose not. What these officers did to me and Jason was horrible and uncalled for, and like i explained on Monday, January 17 @ the William Way Center during the Police Advisory Commission board meeting for the community, when a person breaks the law, law official make sure there brought forward to pay for there mistakes and when a officer breaks the law who brings them forward to make sure they pay. I will not stand here with my arms cross, someone has to pay. These where people that where called for help! People who the community of Philadelphia pays to help protect our streets, our community, our kids, our family. And if we can’t call them on our time of need to help us then WE DONT NEED THEM! I have never been so hurt or embarrased, or felt so damn discriminated in my 7 year of being out as a gay male. I would never call another police official for any reason.
      Thank you everyone for your support, believe Jason and myself do need it.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jake
      Jake

      Hypocrisy defeats everything Francis and your brilliant analysis of policemen in uniform amounts to little more than “straight people always blah blah blah but they really are just that stupid ignorant pigs.” This would make you just that; a hypocrite.

      So instead of attacking the way I put things and trying to rally your fellow homosexual message board commentating clique around you to fight the evil heterosexual forces that be, why don’t you put some thought into what I’m saying and realize that gays in America are no more criticized than Jews, blacks, mexicans whatever. No more fucked with, no more abused, no more harassed by ignorant policemen. All I’m saying is that you are accomplishing one thing: debunking the stereotype that all gay people are level-headed, kind and accepting of others; Sympathetic for people who are suffering the same or similar trials and tribulations (as in the case of EVERYONE IN AMERICA) and people in third-world countries world-wide where its legal to beat your wife, torture, murder publicly and government-backed.

      So, in closing, why don’t you not write to me like I’m a straight person trying to oppress you in your own house, but rather a fellow gay man posting about his distaste for your blind criticism and mob mentality that our community is developing because of haters like you.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Francis
      Francis

      @Jake: It isn’t hypocrisy. It’s an analyzing what I’ve seen, and something many people, gay and straight, can corroborate with. Of course, not all police are like this, however unfortunately, MANY are, MANY. Likely most. For starters, it’s not anti-heterosexual to be honest about anti-gay discrimination. It’s not anti-police to be honest with the fact the police force has a serious anti-gay problem. Next, of course other minorities, the poor, the disabled etc., have their issues. And yes, I am very sympathetic and more so (ie. I actually try helping people in need) to these individuals’ plights. Obviously in 3rd world countries, there are countless numbers of tragedies that are occurring that need more attention than they are getting.

      With all of that said, guess what Jake? LGBT INDIVIDUALS ARE GOING THROUGH THIS SAME SHIT THEMSELVES, AND IN MANY CASES, MUCH WORSE THAN OTHER GROUPS. Period, buddy. Worldwide, Jake. It’s not blind criticism, it’s called being real with the situation of the world. And it isn’t a “mob mentality” to come together as a community against evil forces. You either fight for what you require or you don’t. You want me to just be happy-go-lucky, thinking everything is perfect, carefree, and the fact is, it’s not Jake. The fact is that gay folk are double more likely to be discriminated against.

      It’s past time to just survive and think everything is going to be OK, Jake. It’s time to rally for each other and not allowing these homophobic things to continue. That’s what this is about, Jake. You either get it or you don’t.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Francis
      Francis

      @Luis Berrios: I’m glad you are feeling some love Luis during obviously such a difficult time for you. My heart goes out to you and Jason. I can’t imagine the pain you must have felt during those moments. You really need to get your neighbors to release those tapes and air them publicly. That will end all doubt of your story. Otherwise people will just call you liars. Also, have you done any interviews with the media in Philly? Most of the news outlets with your tragic story are on gay websites only. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through, hopefully eventually you and Jason can fully heal from this situation. You seem to be staying strong and are determined to correct these wrongs, I really hope everything works out for you.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 6:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @Luis Berrios: Knock on some doors in your neighborhood. If they don’t have videos, maybe they’ll sign a written statement of what they saw. Present as much evidence as you can at the hearing. And what Francis said, make the case public.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Adam
      Adam

      @Jake:

      “Hypocrisy defeats everything Francis and your brilliant analysis of policemen in uniform amounts to little more than “straight people always blah blah blah but they really are just that stupid ignorant pigs.” This would make you just that; a hypocrite.”

      No, it makes him (and others who take notice) aware of injustices and bigotry applied to a segment of the population that still has incredibly low political, social, cultural, and legal standing. When there is a pattern of events in which authority is abused and gays are the victims, it needs to be examined and responded to.

      “So instead of attacking the way I put things and trying to rally your fellow homosexual message board commentating clique around you to fight the evil heterosexual forces that be, why don’t you put some thought into what I’m saying and realize that gays in America are no more criticized than Jews, blacks, mexicans whatever. No more fucked with, no more abused, no more harassed by ignorant policemen. All I’m saying is that you are accomplishing one thing: debunking the stereotype that all gay people are level-headed, kind and accepting of others; Sympathetic for people who are suffering the same or similar trials and tribulations (as in the case of EVERYONE IN AMERICA) and people in third-world countries world-wide where its legal to beat your wife, torture, murder publicly and government-backed.”

      You are assuming an equal playing field here between GLBT and other racial/ethnic minorities, which could not be further from the truth. Last time I checked, gays are THE most discriminated against minority in this country (and the world) with regard to social, political, and legal policies and current standing. Proscriptions against those other groups is not *actively* based on their skin color or ethnicity, which is considered passe in our society now, and their laws in place to protect people from that kind of discrimination. However, it is still perfectly acceptable to discriminate against LGBT without, in many cases, any consequences because our society has not completely moved toward recognizing our rights and humanity. The truth is that we are not like the rest of America, for all intensive purposes, and we are NOT being treated like the rest of America (and the WORLD), which is majority heterosexual and anti-gay.Pointing this out does not mean we “debunk” any “stereotype” that’s apparently been in place about what gays are and what we believe in. We should be passionate about our issues and voice our concerns when it’s necessary. And we should not feel ashamed or embarrassed to do so.

      “So, in closing, why don’t you not write to me like I’m a straight person trying to oppress you in your own house, but rather a fellow gay man posting about his distaste for your blind criticism and mob mentality that our community is developing because of haters like you.”

      How can it be blind criticism when the evidence is there for your taking? There is no mob mentality in Francis’s post, it’s observation of patterns and tendencies. Stop making excuses because you aren’t helping anyone or anything but yourself and your own need to make excuses for injustices committed against you, and that is SAD.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 6:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Adam
      Adam

      @Luis Berrios: Yes, follow Kev C and Francis’s advice. Get as much publicity for this as you can. Make your case known to as many outlets as possible. Put this police department – and the city of Philadelphia – in the spotlight.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Luis Berrios
      Luis Berrios

      @Jake, Look buddy let me let you know I was not intoxicated, i was100% sober and part of me wishes that i was intoxicated so i wouldn’t of given a care In the world what those officers did, or i wouldnt of felt the pain that i did. But i was sober, and regardless if we where intoxicated or not as people we have rights as well as anyone else. When that officer placed cuffs on me and started twisting them and told me “LET ME HEAR YOU SQUEEL PUSSY FAGGOT” he was out of line. When i sat in the cop car and heard them plot there story, asking eachother who was going to take the fall to this, then it was another problem. And this could happen to anyone in any situation, it doesn’t have to be that your gay, it could happen to you if your black or white, or if you have a diability, poor or rich . I’m not seeking no money from these people, I’m looking for justice, and not just justice for jason and i but for everyone who has ever been discriminated by police officials. And for them kids in 2010 who felt society was never going to accept them and took there own lives. Some one has to take a stand, and I’m sure not going to stay put and not do anything.

      @Francis and Kev C, i have contacted Internal Affairs and the Police Advisory Commission and filed reports with both of them, i do have a witness statement that’s been filed as well. Its just more than i thought it will be because I’m currently I’m school and my other half us still in custody. And I’m too trying to stay out of jail. Its been a lot of running around and meetings. But giving up is no option for me.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ted
      Ted

      @Adam: I agree with this whole heartedly. Thank you!

      Jan 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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