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The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"America's policing methods are again under fire"
 real 28k

Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Police filmed beating suspect
Police car
The suspect had tried to escape in a police car
A police suspect is in a serious condition in Philadelphia after he was beaten and kicked during his arrest by nearly 20 police officers.

The incident - reminiscent of the police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991 - was filmed by a local TV station.

Philidelphia police
Police were seen to kick and punch the suspect
The man, Thomas Jones, 30, is accused of leading police on a chase in a stolen patrol car after firing at them and wounding one with an officer's gun.

Video footage from a helicopter by WPVI-TV television showed police officers kicking and beating the suspect for 40 seconds after dragging him out of a police car, following a high-speed chase.

Mr Jones, who like Rodney King is black, was taken to hospital with gunshot wounds to the abdomen and arms.

Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street promised "a proper and fair investigation".

For people to start making comparisons to Rodney King, I just think is outrageous

Police commissioner John Timoney
"As inflammatory as this tape might be, we have to keep in mind that the police were in the process of apprehending a criminal suspect who had resisted a number of attempts to arrest him and who had shot a police officer," he said.

"The tape raises some questions, but the tape also doesn't show everything that was going on."

The incident happened after two officers stopped a car that they had identified as a stolen vehicle.

A gun battle ensued in which 45 shots were fired, and the wounded suspect then stole a police car and escaped, pursued by a large number of police vehicles.

Philidelphia police
The suspect was then led away
A total of 19 officers were involved in the eventual arrest of the suspect, who was driven away in a police van, handcuffed and bleeding.

One police officer was shot in the thumb; another was treated for a bite wound inflicted by the suspect, police said.

Philadelphia police commissioner John Timoney told ABC's Good Morning America programme: "For people to start making comparisons to Rodney King, I just think is outrageous."

He said the two incidents were different, and appealed to people not to "jump to conclusions".

"He is resisting throughout. Now, does that justify the force? We won't know until we interview the officers."

The police authorities noted that, while all the officers in the Los Angeles case were white, both black and white officers were involved in Jones' capture.

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