Beaten Graffiti Artist Sprayed With Accusations

Defense for cops accused of beating graffiti artist seek acquittal by saying the victim is an unreliable witness

By Brad Rothseid
|  Friday, Jun 10, 2011  |  Updated 5:31 PM EDT
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Beaten Graffiti Artist Sprayed With Accusations

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The defense attorneys for two police officers accused of  beating and breaking the jaw of a graffiti artist are accusing the alleged victim of being "despicable," reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The defendants, officers Sheldon Fitzgerald, 32, and Howard Hill, 33, are accused of beating David Vernitsky, 40, after they found him allegedly vandalizing a wall in Feltonville, Pa. in August 2007, according to the Inquirer.

The officers are also charged with failing to file reports on the event and lying to investigators after dropping off Vernitsky a block away from where they allegedly restrained him, reports the Inquirer. 

Defense attorneys are asking Common Pleas Court Judge James Lynn to halt the trial and acquit the cops of all charges before the jury has a chance to make its decision. The attorneys are using the graffiti artist's alleged unreliable behavior to question his credibility, according to the Inquirer.

Vernitsky admitted in his courtroom testimony to lying to police, drinking and smoking marijuana on the night that he was caught, as well as running away from the officers.

Following the prosecution’s case against the officers, defense attorney Brian J. McMonagle said Vernitsky spray painted a word on an elevator and stairwell in the Criminal Justice Center, according to the Inquirer.

The judge stated that the extreme nature of Vernitsky’s injuries were so vastly different than the injuries mentioned in the officers’ testimonies that the victim’s credibility was hardly relevant. Lynn held his decision to continue the case or not until his afternoon ruling.

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