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October 06, 2021

Philly cop under investigation for New Year's encounter seen in viral YouTube video

The video has sparked outrage over the officer's provocative behavior leading up to a Black man's arrest

Investigations Police
Philly Police YouTube Video Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia police confirmed an Internal Affairs investigation is underway after an officer filmed taunting and intimidating a Black man during a New Year's Eve encounter. A video of the incident was uploaded to the LackLuster YouTube channel on Oct. 2.

A Philadelphia police officer has been placed on administrative duty amid an investigation into a viral YouTube video that showed him belittling and stalking a Black man on New Year's Eve.

The footage, filmed in the Poplar section of the city, was uploaded to the LackLuster YouTube channel on Oct. 2. The channel is run by Dale Hiller, a popular streamer and retired combat veteran whose content attempts to expose police misconduct and injustice.

The narrator of the video says the footage was submitted by a man named Gabriel, who was leaving his aunt's home on New Year's Eve when he noticed a few police officers in the area. One of the officers, identified in the video as "Officer Hoover," whose name is seen on his police vest, appeared to be following the man. That's when when the man began filming the officer using his cellphone, recording the encounter that eventually ended in his arrest. 

Philadelphia police acknowledged the video and the anger it has caused in a tweet on Tuesday, confirming that an Internal Affairs investigation is underway. Police have not identified the officer by name. 

Michael Neilon, a spokesperson for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said Wednesday that the union has "no comment" on the video.

At various points in the eight-minute video, the officer calls the man "homie" and "boy," growing increasingly provocative as he continues to follow the man. The officer refuses to explain the purpose of his intimidating behavior and denies that he's even following the man. He claims the opposite, in fact, despite repeated approaches and taunts that escalate the situation. 

What led the officer to became suspicious of the man and approach him in the first place is unclear from the video.

On multiple occasions, the officer can be heard excitedly shouting, "World Star," in reference to the video blog known for its shocking content.

"I'm asking you politely, can you please back up?" the man asks the officer during one of his approaches, before adding, "I'm Black, I don't want to get shot."

Early in the eight-minute video, the officer clearly states that the man isn't committing a crime. The officer nonetheless asserts that he's allowed to be around the man because, "It's a free country."

When the man tells the officer he lives in the area, the officer responds incredulously.

"Shut your mouth, boy," the officer says. "You don't live down here."

A short time later, after the man asks for a badge number and positions his phone to get it from the police vest, the officer again advances toward the man and shines the flashlight in his eyes, nearly making contact with him.

Even when the man asks the officer for a "white shirt" to be called to the scene — referring to the white shirts worn by PPD supervising officers — he's met with more escalation. 

"That sounds racist," the officer says in reply, acting oblivious to the meaning of the man's request and making it about race.  

As the encounter devolves, the officer later seizes on the man's confused appeals to his Constitutional rights.

"You're literally too stupid to insult," the officer says.

When it appears the encounter may come to an end, the man crosses to the other side of the street and repeatedly shouts back at the officer, "Bye, dummy."

The taunting between both sides escalates from there, culminating in the man's arrest for disorderly contact and possession of a small amount of marijuana, according to the video's narrator.

"The actions of Officer Hoover are unbecoming of an officer and a disgrace to his department," the narrator states at the end of the video. "Most would agree that they wouldn't want to be treated this way. No public official should be allowed to act in such a disrespectful manner, especially unprovoked."

Philadelphia police did not provide any additional information about the incident and did not identify the officer or the man in the video, whom the narrator claims is still fighting the charges from that night. A further claim that the man who filmed the video filed a formal complaint with Philadelphia police has been disputed by sources who spoke with 6ABC

Hiller's LackLuster channel often posts updates on the videos it publishes, sharing news of police officers being disciplined or punished after internal investigations by their departments. His videos also have been met with backlash from law enforcement, including one Chicago police sergeant who sued Hiller for allegedly misidentifying him in one of his videos from a protest in 2020.

The video of the New Year's Eve incident in Philadelphia has been viewed more than 209,000 times on YouTube as of Wednesday afternoon, and has appeared widely on several other social media outlets in the days since it was first published.