Philadelphia Cops Bust Top Cop's Ex-Protege in Patrol Car- Charged with Stealing
THE POLICE Commissioner's former protege - now a teenage criminal suspect - was in handcuffs again.
This time, it didn't take investigators two months to arrest Christopher Reddick-Johnson (no relation to top cop Sylvester Johnson) for his alleged mischief.
It just took a matter of minutes.
On Thanksgiving eve, sources said, a Center City officer spotted the 17-year-old leisurely sitting in a patrol car in front of the U.S. Attorney's Office on Chestnut Street near 6th.
"I wanted to check my hair in the mirror," said Reddick-Johnson, explaining why he opened the "unlocked" car door to analyze his appearance during a phone interview last night.
Police said the boy then ran, tossing a bag to the ground, and was caught minutes later at around 6:15 p.m. Wednesday. But it wasn't hanging out in a squad car P-310 that got the teen into big trouble with the law, it was the bag.
Inside the black bag, police said they found stolen items taken from two lockers inside the 9th District, on 21st Street near Callowhill, earlier that day. The stash included a gun holster, a police jacket, a police radio, handcuffs, a baton and keys to a police car, and several other things.
It is still a mystery how someone walked into the police station, broke into two officers' lockers, and walked out with most of their police-issued belongings, an investigator said.
Police spokesman William Colarulo would not confirm if Reddick-Johnson was the culprit arrested Wednesday because of his age. But he did confirm that a 17-year-old male was charged with theft and a slew of other crimes.
"The commissioner has not had contact with this 17-year-old," Colarulo said. "And this 17-year-old will be treated like any other [charged] 17-year-old." The commissioner could not be reached for comment.
Reddick-Johnson admitted to carrying the bag but said it was filled with his handcuffs and clothes from the Law Enforcement Exploring Program, which he joined when he was 14.
He said he didn't steal anything on Wednesday and hasn't been inside the 9th District in years.
"There is a lot of stuff [the police] are saying that isn't true," he said. On Wednesday, Reddick-Johnson said he left night classes at Robert Lamberton High School, 75th Street and Woodbine Avenue, to head to Olney for an Explorers meeting.
Later, he said his friends wanted to go to Penn's Landing. So he took the Broad Street subway line to Chestnut Street and started walking toward the river when he stopped to check his hair.
"I was staying out of trouble," he said.
Authorities also charged Darryl Barkley, 21, of Bridge Street near Erdrick in Frankford, who was arrested later, with theft and other crimes alleging that he was Reddick-Johnson's partner.
The last time Reddick-Johnson was in the news for his suspected crimes police said he worked alone. In September, cops arrested the teen for allegedly stealing a police radio from a West Philadelphia police station in late July and making between 100 and 150 transmissions per day, a source said.
Authorities charged him with criminal mischief and theft-receiving stolen property along with lesser crimes of obstructing justice and a slew of others.
Months before, Reddick-Johnson's mother, Desarie Reddick, called the Daily News pleading with a reporter to print her story - that the commissioner wouldn't arrest her son for abusing the power he allowed the boy to have.
Desarie Reddick told the Daily News in May that cops caught her son with a police walkie-talkie, taken without permission. And when he was 15, she said she saw him joyriding in an unmarked police car.
"My son thinks he can do anything wrong, and all he has to do is call the commissioner and get out of it," said Reddick, in the article.
Now the distraught mother is nearly mum.
Last night, she told a reporter she "was sick of being in the newspaper" and declined to comment.
But during a brief late-night phone interview, she said cops smacked her boy around and she photographed his busted lip and bruised neck to prove it. Reddick-Johnson went home to his mother on Thanksgiving.
"I don't think he should have been beaten," she said. "I don't know the rest. But that made me upset."
Desarie Reddick also said that when she picked up her son he wasn't wearing his steel-toed boots because cops claimed he took them from the officer's locker.
But "he ordered them from a catalog a year ago," she said.
Colarulo explained the bruises and the missing shoes.
The 17-year-old "resisted arrest to the point where officers had to use a certain level of force to restrain him," he said. The officers also cited the use of force in the police report.
And the boots: "The reason he was barefoot was that the shoes he was wearing were stolen," Colarulo said.
What does Reddick-Johnson have to say for himself now that his name is featured in the third newspaper article is six months for allegedly stealing and using police equipment while calling the commissioner his mentor?
"It is hard to stop," said the teen about his impulsive attraction to the cop lifestyle. "I just want to be a cop," he said. "I don't want anymore trouble."