PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WTXF) - Police say a Philadelphia teenager is under arrest, charged in the beating of a homeless man in Center City on Monday.
Phone camera footage posted to Facebook shows two younger men squaring off against a 55-year-old homeless man next to a newsstand at 15th and JFK Monday afternoon.
When the homeless man stumbles backward, the video shows the men pounding him as a police officer rushes to break-up the beating.
Vitesh Gandhi runs the newsstand.
“I just saw them arguing,” Gandhi told FOX 29's Bruce Gordon. “And and the boy jumped on that homeless guy and then beat him badly. He knocked him on the floor.”
In the footage, the police officer quickly catches one of the brawlers and taser in hand hauls him back to the scene.
18-year-old David Thigpen, of Philadelphia, has been charged with simple assault and reckless endangerment.
No word on what became of the second person seen on the video pounding the homeless man.
FOX 29 tracked down the beating victim. He did not want to speak.
The incident follows by nine days the fatal beating of another homeless person Kevin Cullen, allegedly at the hands of a group of teens.
“There certainly has been an uptick just in the last few weeks of violence,” Liz Hersh, Philadelphia’s director of Homeless Services, said. “We always worry because people on the street are so vulnerable. We have heard more threats, more violent language toward people.”
Hersh says drug addicts who find themselves on the street get even less sympathy from the public. She notes that the vast majority of the nearly 1,000 chronically homeless men and women in Philadelphia—the victims of these verbal and physical assaults—suffer from mental illness.
“And that’s what happens when you have an ‘empathy gap,’ when you don’t see other people as human beings who have needs and feelings and rights and all of those things.”