May 28, 2015
The 61st annual Hero Thrill Show parade is scheduled for Oct. 10 on Broad Street and the six former Philadelphia police officers acquitted in a corruption trial earlier this month will be honored during the festivities, event president and CEO James J. Binns said recently.
The officers – Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, John Speiser, Linwood Norman and Perry Betts – were cleared of all 47 charges contained in a 26-count federal RICO indictment, including racketeering, robbery and kidnapping.
"These heroes have been vilified in the press and it's time that they were recognized as the heroes they are." – James J. Binns
According to Big Trial, the decision to honor the ex-narcotics officers – all of whom were fired by Commissioner Charles Ramsey after the indictments were handed down – was made by Binns, the lawyer who defended Spicer, the only defendant to take the stand.
Hero Thrill Show is a longstanding event to raise money for college scholarships for sons and daughters of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
According to bigtrial.net, Binns originally announced the six officers would serve as grand marshals of the "Heroes Parade," riding with their families in six white Bentley convertibles down Broad Street. He has since retracted that decision, according to a tweet by WHYY NewsWorks contributor Bill Hanley Jr.
BREAKING: J. Binns says acquitted police won't be marshals of Hero Thrill Ride parade; it'll be Irish Pub owner Cathy Burke @NewsWorksWHYY— Bill Hangley, Jr. (@BillHangley) May 28, 2015
"These heroes have been vilified in the press and it's time that they were recognized as the heroes they are," Binns told BigTrial.net.
In order for the narcotics officers to return to duty, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has said that they would have to go through arbitration.
The October parade is set to begin at City Hall and end at the Wells Fargo Center, where the thrill show will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Last year's event attracted 50,000 people.
In its 60-year history, the Hero Thrill Show has been produced by several organizations and drawn the participation of mounted police, K-9 and SWAT units, bomb squad members, Homeland Security, and personnel from across the Fire Department. Notable figures such as Sylvester Stallone, Bernard Hopkins, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, and Rocky actor Burt Young have made appearances as grand marshals in the event's recent past.
Read the full BigTrial.com article here.