Penn Police defend handling of Mad Mex incident
Philadelphia Daily News reported that a DPS officer inappropriately handled a fight
October 22, 2013, 7:47 pm · Updated October 22, 2013, 9:49 pm·
Luke Chen | DP
The Division of Public Safety strongly disputes claims in a Tuesday Philadelphia Daily News article that a Penn Police officer inappropriately handled a fight involving a Philadelphia assistant district attorney.
“The incident portrayed in the newspaper was not accurate as it relates to the intervention Penn Police made,” Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush told The Daily Pennsylvanian.
The Daily News article described an Oct. 11 fight which broke out at Mad Mex between Philadelphia ADA Kevin Harden and an unnamed Penn employee. The DA’s office was not available for comment as of Tuesday night.
Sources in the article called Harden the “aggressor” in the incident, and the Mad Mex service manager told the Daily News that the Penn Police officer on the scene greeted Harden “as if they were friends.”
“The officer and the ADA recognized each other from a recreational class they had taken,” said Rush, who oversees Penn Police. But she added that the fact that the officer knew Harden had no bearing on how he handled the incident.
The Daily News article quoted Mad Mex service manager Matt Park saying that he recalled Harden telling the officer on the scene, “I punched a guy.” He went on to say that he saw “undertones of preferential treatment” and wondered why, if Harden “admitted to punching the other guy,” there had been no arrest. Harden was not charged for any crimes.
“When the police arrived on site … the fight was already over,” Rush said to the DP. “Generally, police cannot make an arrest for a misdemeanor offense if they don’t witness the crime [under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure].”
Park declined to comment further to the DP.
The article also noted that DPS Director of Operations and External Affairs Kathleen Shields Anderson, whom the Daily News contacted for comment, had been an attorney at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office at the same time as Harden. Rush called the reference “irrelevant because she was not at the scene” of the incident.
The Daily News also requested a copy of the incident report from Shields Anderson. She referred him to University Communications following DPS’ position regarding outside media, Rush said.
It is DPS policy to only give out incident reports to “people who are the subject of the report or for when a subpoena or other court order is produced,” Rush said, “and in the case of criminal trials, [they] would be provided to the court.”
It was not a “conspiracy,” she added. “The Pennsylvania Crimes Code is very clear on the situation that happened at Mad Mex.”
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that under the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act, police cannot make an arrest for a misdemeanor offense if they don’t witness the crime. The act governing this behavior is the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, not the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act.