March 7, 2014: Today, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office charged Philadelphia Police Officer Steven Lupo with Perjury, False Swearing in Official Matters, Unsworn Falsification, False Reports to Law Enforcement and Obstructing Administration of Law. Officer Lupo’s arrest comes as the result of investigations by Police Internal Affairs, the DA’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), and lengthy Grand Jury proceedings.
The investigation into Police Officer (P/O) Lupo begin after a complaint was made to Internal Affairs Detectives about P/O Lupo’s testimony in court on October 18, 2011. It was alleged that P/O Lupo, who was assigned to the 14thPolice District, testified falsely during a hearing about the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Amiraria Farsi on August 5, 2011. During the course of that investigation, Internal Affairs Detectives also found evidence that P/O Lupo testified falsely about the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Joseph Tuamba on September 25, 2010.
In both arrests P/O Lupo testified in front of Municipal Court Judges at preliminary hearings about the facts in those cases, and it was determined that he gave testimony that was false during those hearings.
In the September 25, 2010 case of Joseph Tuamba, P/O Lupo was on the 100 block of East Chelten Avenue when he and his partner encountered a 2010 Lincoln SKS parked outside a Chinese store. The officers ultimately arrested the car’s occupants, Joseph Tuamba and Angel Huffman, and charged them with possession of narcotics. In his testimony, P/O Lupo explained that he could not tell if the car was unoccupied because of the dark tint of the windows, but because the patrol car window was open, he could hear that the car was running. P/O Lupo maintained that he got out of his patrol car to get a closer look inside it, and as he approached the driver’s side of the vehicle he could smell what he believed was marijuana coming from its interior as Mr. Tuamba emerged from the vehicle.
Three witnesses testified on behalf of Mr. Tuamba at the preliminary hearing. The first witness, who drove Mr. Tuamba’s vehicle from the scene that night, testified that the vehicle’s windows were not tinted. The second witness, Mr. Tuamba’s friend who rented the vehicle from Avis Rent-a-Car, testified that at the time she rented it on September 24, 2010, the car did not have any tinted windows. Finally, an agency operator for Avis Rent-a-Car on September 24, 2010, testified that at the time he rented the vehicle to Ms. Morrow it did not have any tinted windows. He also testified that when the car was returned to Avis, its windows were not tinted.
The investigation also revealed that P/O Lupo gave false testimony about another arrest that occurred in 2011. On August 5, 2011, P/O Lupo and his partner conducted a vehicle stop of a 1998 Buick Regal driven by Amiraria Farsi, near Baynton and High Streets, after the vehicle failed to stop at a stop sign. The officers approached the car and saw three males inside – Mr. Farsi and two unnamed males. When the officers approached they noted a “huge odor of marijuana” emanating from the front sides and trunk area of the vehicle. First, P/O Lupo removed the rear passenger from the car and frisked him, and then placed the male back in the car. P/O Lupo approached Mr. Farsi, frisked him and recovered narcotics from his right front pocket. P/O Lupo also recovered money from Mr. Farsi’s pockets. Because of the odor of marijuana, the officers requested that a K9 dog be brought to the scene to determine if the dog would “hit on the car for narcotics.” P/O Lupo also stated that he waited for a search warrant before searching the vehicle, which included going through the vehicle’s trunk. A videotape from a surveillance camera at the scene showed that P/O Lupo’s account was false and that he searched the inside and trunk of the vehicle before the K9 unit arrived and before the search warrant was approved.
SIU is currently working on when Officer Lupo will surrender himself to authorities.