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Grand Jury Accuses Police Officer Of Beating Asian

July 21, 1987

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A police officer beat and illegally arrested an Asian man in his south Philadelphia home, telling fellow officers he did it to appease the man’s neighbors, a grand jury said.

Based on a presentment issued by the grand jury, District Attorney Ronald D. Castille said Monday he had approved criminal charges against Frank Gustis, an 18-year veteran of the department.

Gustis, 40, is accused of assault, false imprisonment, official oppression and false reports in connection with the arrest of Souphanh Phomsaath, 30, on July 13 last year.

Phomsaath was illegally arrested inside his home on charges of public intoxication, according to the grand jury. While Phomsaath was handcuffed, Gustis hit him repeatedly with a nightstick, the presentment said.

″At Gustis’ direction, Phomsaath was transported by a police wagon to the 17th Police District, where he was booked by Gustis under the name ‘Mao Tse- Dung’ for the crime of ‘public intoxication,’ ″ the grand jury said.

He was released the without being charged.

Gustis’ partner, John Gallagher, testified before the grand jury that Gustis told him he arrested Phomsaath ″to appease the neighbors″ so he ″wouldn’t have to respond to any more calls at that location at night.″

Two other officers who had been at the scene, Edward Vallone and Joseph Lynch, also testified before the grand jury. When interviewed previously by police Internal Affairs investigators, Gallagher, Vallone and Lynch had supported Gustis in saying he had not struck Phomsaath and that Phomsaath was drunk.

Police Commissioner Kevin M. Tucker said he would review the charges against Gustis before deciding on action. He said he also planned to review the behavior of the other three officers to decide on discipline for them.

The officers have been removed from active patrol duty pending the outcome of the investigation.