Police Admit Blow By Officer Left Suspect Seriously Injured
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Police admitted Thursday that a blow from an officer’s night stick and not self-inflicted wounds left a man semi-comatose with brain injuries after he was arrested on assault charges.
Some police officials earlier said Thomas Loyden’s injuries, which have required two operations, were caused when he banged his head into cell walls and bars after his arrest in a fight with police April 1.
Witnesses, however, said officers repeatedly struck Loyden, continuing even after he was on the ground and handcuffed.
Inspector Edward McLaughlin said Thursday the case involved a police officer ″making a lawful arrest who also used a little force.″ He did not name the officer, but Detective Gerald Whartenby later identified him as Alan Maidenbaum.
The FBI is investigating to determine whether Loyden’s civil rights were violated, said agency spokesman Jim McIntosh.
Loyden, 21, was arrested after Maidenbaum and Officer Dennis Weiss responded to a fight in Loydon’s north Philadelphia neighborhood, said McLaughlin, head of the police Internal Affairs Division.
The officers became entangled in the dispute and ended up fighting Loydon, the inspector said.
Loyden punched Weiss in the stomach and struggled with him, then was struck once on the head with a night stick by Maidenbaum, McLaughlin said.
″We’re in the process of trying to reconstruct the scene; it was melee,″ McLaughlin said, adding that Maidenbaum insists he struck Loyden only once.
The department will decide whether to take any disciplinary action after completion of the internal investigation.
McLaughlin said police never officially ruled that Loyden’s wounds were self-inflicted and blamed the earlier reports on officers speculating about a prisoner they knew nothing about.
Loyden, who is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest and failure to disperse, was listed in guarded condition Thursday in the intensive care unit at Nazareth Hospital.
Last week doctors gave him a 50 percent chance of surviving, but his mother, Mary Loyden, said doctors now believe her son is out of danger.
Police Commissioner Kevin Tucker, who ordered the internal investigation on the basis of the witnesses’ reports, said he welcomed the FBI’s involvement in the case.
″We have nothing to hide. This was either done in a proper manner or it was not and I want to know either way,″ he said.