Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer


A Philadelphia jury on Tuesday acquitted a former Philadelphia police detective accused of breaking the leg of a man as he escorted him from the Special Victims Unit in North Philadelphia.

The Common Pleas Court jury deliberated for about seven hours before acquitting Adam O’Donnell of aggravated and simple assault and two counts involving misusing his official role as a police officer.

O’Donnell, 44, a member of the Police Department for nine years when he was arrested in February 2016, testified in his defense and denied kicking or initiating physical contact with the alleged victim, Theodore Life III, 44.

O’Donnell denounced his arrest and prosecution, and said he intended to seek reinstatement to the department.

“This was a total money grab,” said Gregory J. Pagano, O’Donnell’s defense attorney, adding that Life has sued O’Donnell and other officers involved in taking him into the unit for questioning.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Bonner was not immediately available for comment. Prosecution spokesman Cameron Kline said that “we are disappointed by the verdict but we respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their service.”

Life accused O’Donnell of kicking him in a knee as the detective escorted him from the unit at 300 E. Hunting Park Ave. on Feb. 2, 2015. Life said the kick broke his femur.

According to Pagano, Life was brought into the unit after employees at a Dunkin’ Donuts at 16th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Center City complained that he was being disruptive and had tried to lift the skirt of a female customer.

In the unit, O’Donnell said, Life was confrontational. Although Life was not charged with a crime, O’Donnell said he escorted Life from the building when Life made an aggressive move toward Vondel Cook, an officer in the unit.

O’Donnell said that as he and Life reached the exit, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound man lunged at him. O’Donnell, who said he is 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds, stepped aside and tripped Life, who fell to the ground.

Life walked away, O’Donnell said. It was only later that he learned Life went to Abington Memorial Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a hairline fracture of his kneecap.

Pagano said he later learned that Life had gone first to Einstein Medical Center in Logan, where the injury was diagnosed as a sprained or twisted knee.

During his time on the force, O’Donnell earned several commendations. He survived a New Year’s Eve shootout in 2010 when he and his partner made a traffic stop in West Philadelphia.

O’Donnell was shot in the chest but was wearing his bulletproof vest. His partner was grazed. Both officers returned fire and killed the driver who shot at them.