Judge says evidence at hearing is enough to warrant court case Former University Police officer Thomas McDade will have to stand trial for the alleged beating of Drexel University alumnus Gregory Peifer, Senior Municipal Court Judge Lynwood Blount ruled yesterday in a preliminary hearing. McDade was charged with felony aggravated assault October 11 and also fired from the University Police force the same day for the alleged beating of Peifer near FUBAR on September 16. McDade also faces charges of recklessly endangering another person. The preliminary hearing was originally scheduled for October 17, but was postponed because Peifer failed to attend the hearing. Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Ogren and McDade's criminal defense attorney, Joel Trigiani, each had about five minutes to present their cases. Peifer testified that McDade punched and kicked him while he was on the ground, breaking his jaw and inflicting a cut on his eye after he attempted to leave FUBAR through a side door. Trigiani cross-examined Peifer, but was warned by Blount on a few different occasions to keep his questions relevant to the preliminary hearing. Blount also sustained several objections to Trigiani's line of questioning. "This is not a trial," Blount said. "We're not going to try this case [today]." After the cross-examination, the defense attorney called University Police officer Phil Lyndon to testify as a witness to the scene. Lyndon testified that he was outside of FUBAR on the night of September 16, along with officer Frederick Ricelli and McDade and did not see McDade strike anyone. Lyndon also testified that after Peifer was pushed out the door by the FUBAR bouncers, he saw Peifer charge at McDade, punching him in the side of the head and knocking his glasses off. Blount ruled that McDade must stand for trial based on the prima facie evidence presented at the hearing, scheduling McDade's arraignment for December 12 at the Criminal Justice Center. Ogren said he was not surprised that the case was held for court. "At the preliminary hearing stage, all the Commonwealth has to prove is that the defendant more likely than not committed the charged crimes," he explained. Dave Ball, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 113, said although he is disappointed by the outcome of yesterday's proceeding, he is confident that McDade will be found not guilty in the trial. "When the case is tried completely and all the facts come out, McDade will be exonerated completely," Ball said. Several University Police officers, Penn students and friends of McDade came to yesterday's hearing in support of the officer. McDade, along with officer Antonio Serrano, was allegedly involved in the beating of two homeless men while the officers were uniformed and on duty on September 16 between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., according to Public Safety Managing Director Thomas Seamon. Seamon said in October that the homeless men claimed McDade and Serrano picked them up separately and transported them to the Civic Center in a police van. The men alleged they were beaten by the officers behind the building. Serrano was fired after a pre-disciplinary hearing with University Police Chief George Clisby. Ricelli was suspended without pay for 10 days following a hearing with Clisby, for his alleged involvement in the FUBAR incident.Comments powered by Disqus
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