2 former transit officers face charges in on-duty assault
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Two former transit officers were charged Thursday with assaulting an intoxicated man at a train station, leaving him with a broken nose and concussion.
David Simcox and Jonathan Lanciano, both 29 at the time, were fired early this year after an internal investigation of the December altercation, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said.
The charges were based on a review of surveillance and body-camera footage.
Simcox and Lanciano were among five officers who responded to a report Dec. 12 of a drunken man on the tracks at a Philadelphia station. When police arrived, Matthew Townsend, 28, was sitting with his legs dangling off the platform.
The video footage shows the officers pulling Townsend from the edge of the platform by his armpits before they began punching him “without provocation,” SEPTA said.
Simcox was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment and filing false reports. Lanciano was charged with simple assault, reckless endangerment, filing false reports and harassment.
It was unclear from charging documents whether either man had an attorney. A call to the Fraternal Order of Transit Police seeking comment on the allegations was not returned Thursday.
Townsend told transit investigators he had dropped his glasses on the tracks and was looking for someone to help him find them when an officer approached.
According to SEPTA, the footage showed Townsend’s free arm flailing as he was dragged from the edge of the platform. Simcox punches Townsend in his face before the other officers can get him to the ground. Then Lanciano is seen punching him in the back and torso.
The officers filed reports saying Townsend physically resisted, but transit police investigators said there was no evidence to support that claim, and prosecutors declined to charge him.
“We believe in an equal standard of justice for everybody, and that is what this case is about,” said Ben Waxman, spokesman for the district attorney.
This story has been corrected to show only Lanciano was accused of punching Townsend while he was on the ground and that the name of the transportation authority is the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority not Southeast.