The rights of crime suspects are routinely abused by police in this city, with suspects sometimes beaten during interrogation, the Philadephia Inquirer said yesterday:
The newspaper conducted a four-month investigation into the 84-member homicide division and interviewed a number of detectives, none of whom would allow his name to be used.
Police Commissioner Joseph F. O'Neill denied the allegations in a written statement to the Inquirer. He refused to talk to reporters over the weekend.
The Inquirer's copyrighted article said some interrogations last up to 24 hours and are conducted by teams of detectives in tiny rooms at midcity headquarters.
Suspects or witnesses often are handcuffed to metal chairs bolted to the floor and are beaten in ways that keep visible injuries to a minimum - for example, placing telephone books on suspects' heads, then pounding the books with heavy objects, the newspaper said.
In pretrial hearings for 80 of 433 homicide cases since 1974 judges have ruled that police acted illegally in obtaining statements from suspects or witnesses by interrogation.
One detective was quoted as saying:
"Did I ever hit anyone just because of the crime he committed? Knowing this system the way I do, knowing the killer is going to be out on the street in a short time, did I ever hit anyone just because I was so angry at the crime he committed? Be your own judge on that. I'm a human being."