After being beaten by employees of a Philly Family Dollar store, left bleeding on the sidewalk, humiliated on camera and then charged with assault and robbery, Ben Robinson says he’s finally gotten justice.
“Well I just felt that the truth prevailed,” he said. “One thing’s for sure, I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”
The 55-year-old learned Friday that six charges levied against him – including aggravated assault – were dropped in a case Common Pleas Judge Karen Simmons called a “disgrace.”
On a rainy day in April, Robinson was shopping with a friend at the Family Dollar store at 47th Street and Girard Avenue when he was accused of shoplifting soap. He says three employees began beating him and his friend outside the store and so, he went to his car to get a tire iron for defense.
Robinson was then surrounded by the unidentified men, pushed, punched and hit in the head with the tire iron. The entire attack was caught on video by a passerby and posted to the internet.
Following the beating, the employees returned to the store and called Philadelphia Police, leaving Robinson bleeding on the sidewalk. When officers arrived, they arrested and charged Robinson, much to his dismay.
“I’m thinking I’m going to the hospital to get stitched up after getting beat up and I find out I’m being arrested,” Robinson previously told NBC10.com. “I couldn’t understand it. I’m getting arrested for getting beat up.”
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When NBC10.com obtained the video and notified police, officials said they were never told about the assault of Robinson and began to re-investigate the case. Even Robinson and his legal council did not know the video existed.
However, the case continued through the Court of Common Pleas. The preliminary hearing was postponed four times -- until Friday when the evidence was heard.
“I was kinda nervous, because I couldn’t understand what the state was trying to prove,” Robinson said.
No witnesses appeared in court and Judge Simmons was able to review surveillance video from inside the store as well as the beating video from outside, according to Robinson. The judge then dismissed the charges as he wept in court.
“She said it was such a disgrace the way it was done,” he said. “She said it was a disgrace how they just left me out there.”
When the video came to light, Philadelphia Police re-opened the case to investigate the new findings. Lt. John Walker, of the Southwest Detective Division, said Friday that detectives have been trying to get in touch with Robinson to interview him, but so far have been unsuccessful.
“We are more than willing to go forward and have been trying to go forward, but we need to speak with Mr. Robinson,” he said.
Robinson says he’s still dealing with effects of the beating. He now walks with a cane and still experiences pain at times.
As for the employees, Robinson says he was told they’ve since been fired from the store.
“The store owner could have contacted me and apologized, but they didn’t,” he said.
NBC10.com contacted Family Dollar several times for comment, by phone and email, regarding the incident and never heard back.
Asked whether he would like the men involved brought up on charges, Robinson said he “wouldn’t have a problem with it.” “Maybe they need a wake up call,” he added.
Mary Maran, Robinson’s attorney, called the employees “ruffian” and is planning to pursue a legal case against them.
“Those animals left him reeling and stumbling in the street while they laughed. And they can bet I'm coming for them," she said.