Temple University police fault radio in clash with teen

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The disturbing video surfaced on the web yesterday only hours after the incident.

Temple University police are barred from speaking to the media, but sources within the department say it illustrates that their lives are being endangered because of the new radio system.

In the video posted on, you can hear people laughing and joking as two Temple University police officers are struggling to arrest a suspect at the corner of 16th Street and Montgomery Avenue.

The altercation began after one of the officers accidentally bumped the suspect with his bike. Soon things turned into mayhem.

Sources say almost immediately one of the officers pushed the emergency button on his radio to signal the officer was in distress and in need of backup. It's also supposed to activate a new GPS system which is supposed to provide their exact location so responding officers know where to go.

But, sources say backup was delayed by 3.5 to 4 minutes because the signal didn't go through.

Although the incident was already in progress when the cell phone video was taken, 22 seconds into the video, one of the officers reaches for his radio on his collar. At 28 seconds, he reaches for it again.

During the altercation, one officer was punched and slammed into a parked car.

One of the offenders' friends attempted to take the second officer's gun.

With the crowd growing and closing in, at 44 seconds, one of the officers, apparently in fear for his life, pulls his service weapon and points it at the crowd to scare them off.

They struggle for yet another minute to handcuff the suspect until finally at 2:55, a backup officer arrives on the scene. The officers received only minor injuries.

Sources within the department contend backup officers could have arrived sooner had the new digital radio system had been working properly.

But the university contends the system did work properly.

"What is accurate is that from the time we received the transmission from the officer until the time we responded we had about a two minute response time," Temple University spokesman Ray Betzner said.

But officers who wished to remain anonymous for fear of losing their jobs say there have been numerous complaints about the new radio system and that they feel unsafe.

"Our officers are very, very brave people and they go out and work in sometimes very difficult circumstances and we're very proud of the work that they do," Betzner said.

The suspect, 19-year-old Ronnie Gambrell, has been charged with aggravated assault and related offenses. Police are still looking to identify the others involved in the melee.

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Get more Crime »

philadelphia, pennsylvania, temple university, police, crime, dann cuellar
blog comments powered by Disqus