Dave Coit wears sunglasses on cloudy days. He favors his left side when he walks. And he is missing a tooth from the right side of his mouth. These are all ailments from a beating he received courtesy of a group of Philadelphia police officers in June 2006. Many of his neighbors and friends watched it happen and have watched him try to recover. It’s a day he will never forget, though he has tried.
His son, Kev Coit, was 15 when the beating occurred. He was buying water ice outside their home on Eighth and Bristol streets in Hunting Park. He thought the vendor gave him the incorrect change and he admittedly punched him. “I wanted to beat him. He was trying to cheat me. But me and my dad got beat instead,” said Kev. The police were called after Kev’s first swing and he began to run down Eighth street, toward Hunting Park Avenue. When the cops caught up to him, they threw him to the ground, beat him, and then loaded him into the back of a car. “I didn’t see nothing after that because I was in the car. I saw the tape though,” said Kev.
Meanwhile, Antwoine Sanders, who is a family friend, ran to the house to tell Dave about the incident. Dave approached the scene with a personal video camera. An officer grabbed the camera out of his hands and threw it in the back of their patrol car. There was footage from another neighbor’s camera that was filming the scene from across the street. This camera recorded one officer yelling to Dave, “How do you feel to be robbed?” Now, Dave wants to press charges for robbery. “Not only did they beat the shit out of me, but they took something that didn’t belong to them. The two cops who were there can be charged for robbery and being an accessory to robbery,” said Dave.
After his camera was stolen, Dave inquired about his son. He wanted to know why he was arrested and where they were taking him. Instead of discussing the incident with him, the officers proceeded to beat him. Then they called back up on a non-resisting man. At this point, the argument shifted from the corner of Eighth and Bristol streets to the intersection of Bristol and Darien streets just a block away.
Elaine Boone and her son, Quentin, live on that corner and watched from their front steps. “It was pure chaos that day. There was so much commotion. Dave was just speaking with the cops and then all of a sudden, there were more than 10 jumping on him and hitting him. They could have just talked with him. That’s all he wanted,” said Elaine.
Antwoine Sanders was not surprised by the incident. “I live in Philadelphia. I see shit like this all the time. Don’t get me wrong, this was brutal, but it happens,” said Sanders.
Dave Coit Jr., Dave’s 17-year-old son, also watched. “My dad didn’t throw no punches that day. He just stood there and took it,” said Dave Jr. “They broke a night stick on his back and eventually Tasered him. All of that and he never fought back. Not once.”
Neighbor Jose “Chico” Rodriguez agreed. “He took an ass-whooping that I would never have taken. All he wanted to do was talk to a white shirt and they beat him for it. He propped himself up on a truck and took their hits without fighting back. I would have been in the hospital for months. They sent him home within a day,” said Rodriguez.
“They hurried me as fast as they could through the hospital routine. I had to stitch my own lip because they wouldn’t sew it up for me,” said Dave. When he came home from the hospital, he had bruises all over his back and his legs. His knees were cut up, as were his elbows. His mouth and eyes were swollen and the pain was unbearable. His eye has never fully healed and his permanent squint is a daily reminder of the experience.
“I don’t go anywhere now. I’m afraid to leave my home. Every time I see a cop car, I wonder if they’re coming for me again,” said Dave. “I’ve been trying to get my story told for almost four years, but no one wants to run it. They are all scared of the police and I am too.”
The public affairs unit of the Philadelphia Police Department did not care to comment on the incident because it is still considered an ongoing investigation.
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