PHILADELPHIA (April 4, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams today announced that after a thorough investigation of the fight that took place at the Recess Lounge (125 S. 2nd St.) on Feb. 7, 2016, there is not enough evidence to meet the legal threshold to issue charges.
“For the past several weeks my office has worked diligently with Philadelphia Police Department’s Central Detectives to investigate this matter and, in the end, there is insufficient evidence to prove that any individual committed a criminal offense,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “My job is not to decide if anyone acted appropriately or not. My job is to determine if evidence exists to charge any individual with a crime. I do that by looking at all the facts. That is what we did here. My decision today is consistent with my commitment to the citizens of Philadelphia to charge, and only charge, those people who, based on evidence, are guilty of crimes.”
Looking at the events and the actions of all parties on Feb. 7 2016, there is insufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, who started the fight and under what circumstances. In order to gain a conviction against any individual, the District Attorney’s Office would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any actions taken were not in self-defense or in the defense of another.
The law allows a person to legally defend himself or herself if he or she believes that force is immediately necessary to protect against the use of unlawful force against themselves. The law also says that a person is legally entitled to use force to protect another person if he or she believes that force is immediately necessary to protect someone from being injured by the use of unlawful force. While it is clear that a physical altercation took place, there is insufficient credible evidence to determine which of the participants was the initial aggressor or whether some participants were acting in self-defense or in the reasonable defense of another.
The combined investigation of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and Philadelphia Police Detectives in the Recess Lounge incident was extensive. Over a nine week period, Assistant District Attorneys and Central Detectives built a comprehensive timeline of the events leading up to and following the Recess Lounge incident. They also conducted 44 interviews speaking with a total of 27 individuals, made a site visit, examined the medical records of multiple participants, and reviewed photographs and video surveillance footage.
The following findings of the investigation were material to the District Attorney’s decision not to file charges:
- Only two interviewed individuals gave any information about how the physical contact initiated and both of those versions were in direct conflict with another;
- Each participant affirmatively declined to make a report when asked by uniformed police officers outside the club immediately after the incident;
- Each injured participant declined medical attention outside the club and later sought medical attention at hospitals far from the incident; and
- In numerous statements to police and Assistant District Attorneys, multiple participants misidentified who was present and participated in the fight.
The totality of the information yielded by this comprehensive investigation supports the District Attorney’s decision not to file charges.