John Perez was acquitted on Friday, February 21, for charges stemming from an altercation with Allentown, Pennsylvania police that was caught on video.
Footage from September 2018 shows an officer pushing Perez to the ground. After Perez got to his feet, multiple officers kicked and punched him in an attempt to get him back on the ground.
Perez claims he was responding to insults hurled at him by the officers. The police say that Perez was picking a fight. The altercation left Perez with a broken nose, scrapes, swelling, and bruises from his hips to his shoulder.
After Perez's acquittal, Lehigh County Judge Maria L. Dantos reprimanded the police officers and the district attorney's office, saying Perez was justified in protecting himself.
"For not the first time in recent history I became ashamed. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed of the officers and their conduct and their words and actions, and I was ashamed of the office I spent 17 years in that they would bring this prosecution.
You chose to, instead, put on display police officers calling people pussies, bitches, threatening to shoot a dog, forming your disgusting blue line of four officers who turned their backs and said they saw nothing."
The judge criticized the officers' behavior during the trial and during Perez's arrest.
"You perjured yourselves. You escalated a situation without cause. Cops smirking on the stand at this jury, laughing at the defense attorney, high-fiving in the hallway after testimony as if there were something, anything, to be proud of here.
You, officer Lebron, shoved Mr. Perez because you were mad, period. And then you got up on the stand and told that jury that you were just trying to make some space. That is not what happened. Nine officers, most of the night shift, pulling cars from other areas of the city because you lost it. That's what happened. You lost it. Over nothing. Because someone was talking to you in a manner you didn't like? No crime. You serve them."
Dantos, a former first assistant DA before becoming a judge in 2007, questioned why Perez's case was even brought to trial in the first place.
"I warned the commonwealth and yet you displayed this conduct for the world to see. It's shameful. I would really like to unite this community between law enforcement and the citizens. But the blame for this lays with you and it is for you to fix."
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