Police brutality victim petitions for a second chance
Najee Rivera lost more than blood when he became a victim of police brutality. He lost three days work due to the injuries he sustained, and the time cost him the job. But now he's petitioning to get it back.
“With the swing of a police baton, I lost my dignity and my dream job,” says Najee Rivera. "After the 2 police officers beat me, all I could think about was getting to work."
In 2013, Officers Kevin Robinson and Sean McKnight claimed that Rivera had assaulted them and resisted arrest after a routine traffic stop in the Fairhill section of the city. Rivera’s girlfriend scoured the area in search of an eyewitness. At last, she found surveillance footage that vindicated Rivera. The video told quite a different story than Robinson and McKnight did.
Rivera was not stopped. He was mowed down on his motorcycle by the officers' patrol car. They then got of the vehicle and proceeded to beat Rivera with their batons as he screamed for help.
Following the video’s emergence, District Attorney Seth Williams immediately dropped the charges against Rivera and began investigating the officers. Williams eventually charged them with a laundry list of crimes: Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Criminal Conspiracy, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Tampering with Public Records or Information, False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities, Obstructing Administration of Law, and Official Oppression.
Rivera agreed to a $200,000 settlement from the city. But what he lost can’t be made up by the modest figure.
At the time of the attack, Rivera had been working at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for nearly a month and was still under review for permanent employment.
“When I got hired at [CHOP] I felt I had finally made it. Not only did it pay twice as much as any job I ever had, I was finally doing a job I could take pride in,” Rivera says in his petition.
After the incident, Rivera was asked not to come into work because his "appearance wasn’t appropriate for children to see." He missed three days, and at the end of his probationary period, the Hospital cited the missing time as reason not offer him permanent employment.
“My job was what I had left of my dignity and pride. With everything going on, it was a way to show my self worth and take control of my life. It was also the best opportunity someone with a high school diploma could ask for. I could pay my bills, save money, and I was looking forward to buying a house. That all went away when Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia let me go due to no fault of my own.”
Rivera says that the homeowner’s dream is no longer possible, and that he’s struggling to pay his bills and take care of his daughter. But he’s not crowdfunding for handouts, but rather for signatures (50,000 to be exact). He wants CHOP to consider his case and offer him a second chance.