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September 1, 2014, 5:17 am

Conflicting accounts in blind man’s attack case

Witnesses at 47th and Walnut, state police made false arrest, used excessive force on legally blind Black man; officers argue otherwise

 

The Philadelphia Police Department is sorting out exactly what happened when a pedestrian stop turned ugly, leaving the suspect, who is legally blind, and two officers with injuries, and accusations of excessive force flying in the community once again.

Witnesses said police were overly aggressive in trying to subdue Darrell Holloway, 22, who is legally blind. The police are saying Holloway started the physical altercation when he and his cousin, Jamal Holloway, 33, were stopped by 18th District police officers who suspected them of making a drug transaction.

No drugs or money were found, but during the course of the investigation, Holloway allegedly started the physical confrontation with police, law enforcement officials said.

The incident, which was videotaped by a witness and posted on the Internet, happened in the vicinity of 47th and Walnut streets on Friday, Aug. 19 around 9:45 p.m.

According to Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross, Philadelphia police officer Anthony Lazzaro reported that he and his partner approached three men for suspicious activity. In the arrest report Lazzaro said that when he pulled defendant Darrell Holloway toward his police car, Holloway pushed him and then punched him. Assisting officers were called during which time Holloway and Officer Lazzaro exchanged blows while local residents gathered and observed.

One resident, Charles Maddox, recorded part of the incident with a cell phone. The visual quality of the recording is poor because the area is dark, poorly lit and tall trees obscure streetlights. But the audio picked up shouting by residents; one who repeatedly said that Holloway was a blind man.

“This incident is definitely under investigation,” Ross said. “Obviously, we want to resolve this.”

Holloway has been charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He does have a history of juvenile contacts with police, but no adult arrest record. His partial blindness is a result of a gunshot wound to the head four years ago.

Holloway was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where he was treated for minor injuries and released. Officer Lazzaro and a second officer were also treated for minor injuries.

Holloway’s attorney, Kevin B. Mincey, told the Tribune that his client has a different story.

“My client says that the officer grabbed him from behind, slammed him into a parked car and then started punching him,” Mincey said. “At one point, according to Officer Lazzaro they were separated by other officers and my client broke free, charged Officer Lazzaro and started choking him. My client is legally blind in both eyes. He can’t see shadows or any difference in light. Somehow he charged the officers? In the video, which has poor visual quality but in the audio you can clearly hear the outrage by residents. This portion of Walnut Street is dark and my client’s back was to the officers, so how could they see a drug transaction? But all of this is something we’ll fight in court.”

Mincey said Holloway is out on bail and awaiting arraignment, which has been scheduled for Sept. 27.