Officer Contradicts Superiors on MOVE Plans
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A police officer who helped plan the assault on MOVE headquarters contradicted his superiors and said officials knew that tons of water sprayed on the radical group’s rooftop bunker would have no effect.
Sgt. Albert Revel, testifying Thursday before the special commission investigating the MOVE assault, which left 11 people dead, 61 homes burned and 250 people homeless May 13, said water cannons were used primarily to create a diversion.
In the early stages, he said, officers had hoped the water cannons would destroy the fortified bunker. But, he said, ″my hopes were dashed″ when Fire Commissioner William Richmond determined the bunker would withstand the deluge.
Mayor W. Wilson Goode and numerous other city officials have testified the water was designed to knock off the bunker. The blaze that destroyed the neighborhood was touched off by a bomb dropped on the house from a helicopter to destroy the bunker.
Four officers, including the builder of the bomb, today refused to testify at the hearing. One of four, the man who dropped the bomb, had already refused to testify.
Patrick Artur, attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police, delivered letters to the commission which said the four officers were invoking their Fifth Amendment rights to refuse to testify on grounds of self-incriminati on.
In other testimony Thursday:
- Revel and Officer Michael Tursi, who also was involved in the planning, said police contingency plans called for placing explosives on the roof. The option was discussed in a two-page document produced by Revel.
Commissioner Gregore Sambor has testified he knew of no plans for rooftoop explosives until the afternoon of the confrontation and that no formal written record of the assault plans existed.
- According to Revel and notes from interviews with Lt. Frank Powell, who refused today for a second time to testify publicly on dropping the bomb from a helicopter, Sambor gave Powell permission to borrow heavy weapons, including an M-60 machine gun and an anti-tank gun.
Sambor testified that he gave no permission to borrow the equipment and his lawyer denied the statements Thursday.
Artur, who accused the commission of bullying witnesses Thursday, said six officers would take advantage of a federal court ruling and refuse to testify.
The ruling allows witnesses planning to invoke the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid the televised hearings.
All of the witnesses were members of the police bomb squad, according to three of the officers contacted by The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Officer William Klein, who assembled the bomb that was dropped on the MOVE house, said the officers feared their public testimony might leave them open to criminal prosecution. The U.S. attorney’s office and the Philadelphia district attorney’s office have said they will investigate the confrontation.
Police officials have said Klein used a powerful military explosive in the bomb without authorization, then withheld the information for several months.
″Everything we did that day, we did under orders,″ Klein said. ″We want to get up and tell it all, but not the way they are doing it. ... When it all comes out, you’ll be surprised.″