scorecardA Philly cop has been charged with assault over a bar fight. In 2011, the Fraternal Order of Police made sure he didn't lose his job after being accused of punching his wife in the face.
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A Philly cop has been charged with assault over a bar fight. In 2011, the Fraternal Order of Police made sure he didn't lose his job after being accused of punching his wife in the face.

Charles R. Davis   

A Philly cop has been charged with assault over a bar fight. In 2011, the Fraternal Order of Police made sure he didn't lose his job after being accused of punching his wife in the face.
PolicyPolicy2 min read
Not the officer in question. Philadelphia Police Sgt. James Graber Jr. is accused of assaulting three people at a Roxborough bar after someone played music he didn't like on the jukebox.    William Thomas Cain/Getty Images
  • A Philadelphia police officer has been charged with assault over an alleged bar fight.
  • The officer became enraged when someone put on hip-hop or R&B music, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

A Philadelphia police officer has been arrested and charged with assault after an internal investigation found that he became enraged when someone at a local bar put on hip-hop or R&B music, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday, with the affidavit for his arrest accusing him of punching three people during the incident, including a detective.

A spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department told Insider that the officer, Sgt. James Graber Jr. was arrested on March 9 "and subsequently suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss." He faces charges of aggravated and simple assault, terroristic threats, and reckless endangerment, the Inquirer reported.

The same officer was arrested in 2011 and charged with simple assault and reckless endangering after he was accused of punching his estranged wife in the face at another bar. The department tried to fire him after that incident — which saw Graber enter a diversion program at the request of his former partner — but was thwarted by the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, which filed a union grievance to have him reinstated.

There have been other incidents.

Last year the officer, who is white, went viral after video was posted online of him losing his temper and becoming physically aggressive during an interaction with a Black family at their home; in the video, another officer, a Black woman, can be seen holding him back.

And in 2013, the Inquirer reported, Graber was also suspended for accusations of abuse of authority while serving on the city's Bomb Disposal Unity. The police union again intervened and successfully overturned the disciplinary action.

As Insider has reported, some police unions seek to prevent officers accused of wrongdoing from losing their jobs, even when department leaders — themselves oft-accused of being too lenient on bad cops — no longer want them on the force. In Philadelphia, in particular, the local FOP has intervened dozens of times in recent years to prevent officers accused of wrongdoing from losing their jobs.

John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia FOP chapter since 2007, is a vocal critic of criminal justice reform who has accused the local district attorney, Larry Krasner, of being soft on crime. In 2016, McNesby made headlines after endorsing former President Donald Trump and later visiting the White House to condemn so-called progressive prosecutors.

"The criminals know that there are no repercussions," he said in 2021.

An FOP spokesperson told Insider that, this time around, the union "is not representing the officer and has no further comment."

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com




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