PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia officials have announced charges against a man they say assaulted a WHYY journalist and his companion during an altercation back on June 1.
George Graf, 36, has been charged with conspiracy, aggravated assault, and related charges, according to the district attorney's office.
Officials say Graf is alleged to have been part of a group of individuals who stood outside the 26th Police District during a confrontation with Black Lives Matter Protesters. Some members of that group were seen holding bats, clubs, and other items during those confrontations.
George Graf, 36
The incident in which Graf has been charged is one of what the district attorney's office says was a number of physical assaults and threats of violence that were reported at the scene and on social media. Dozens of complaints have been filed against the group along with video and photo evidence.
Investigators say they relied on video and photo evidence, as well as eyewitness interviews to identify Graf as a co-conspirator in the alleged assault.
The WHYY journalist, who was off duty at the time of the incident, says he was filming interactions between anti-racism protesters and the group of people who claimed to be defending the police and the neighborhood.
Authorities say Graf followed the journalist before repeatedly asking why he was filming the scene in an interaction police say was captured on video.
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According to investigators, surveillance video shows Graf following the journalist as he moves through a crowd. Further video evidence shows Graf pointing at the complainant before motioning two times to a group of individuals to follow the off-duty journalist.
During a physical altercation that ensued, the journalist was punched multiple times while on the ground, resulting in a broken nose, fractured maxilla, and other injuries.
His female companion was shoved into trash cans as she tried to intervene and suffered minor bruising.
The district attorney's office says no arrest was made at the scene despite a large police presence.
“I want to thank my office’s Special Investigations Unit for working non-stop to ensure that individuals who intimidated, harassed, or assaulted peaceful protesters and mere bystanders are identified correctly and brought to justice,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said. “You don’t get to call yourself a ‘vigilante’ when you are just committing crimes. You don’t get to say you are defending, when you are initiating violence. I want to thank all of the brave Philadelphians who have come forward in recent weeks to share photo and video evidence with my Special Investigations Unit. We know there are more perpetrators of violence to be identified and brought in. Keep it coming.”
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