Promoting police officer accused of misconduct is a bad look for Philly

Written by on December 10, 2019

A decade ago, before #BlackLivesMatter, before Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, before camera phones immortalized the deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police, there was a Philadelphia narcotics squad that allegedly ran amok in black and brown communities.

Officer Thomas Tolstoy was a key member of that narcotics squad, and their exploits were covered in a Daily News Pulitzer Prize-winning series called Tainted Justice. The squad carried out raids in mom and pop stores, and it was alleged by a number of witnesses that they disabled surveillance cameras and after the officers cut or yanked the wires, thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise went missing. Perhaps worse, it was alleged that Tolstoy sexually assaulted at least three women while taking part in home raids. And while federal authorities declined to bring criminal charges against Tolstoy and others related to that behavior, the city, without admitting wrongdoing, reportedly paid out $227,500 to two women who said Tolstoy sexually assaulted them. A third woman, who alleged that Tolstoy stuck his fingers into her vagina during one such raid, stopped cooperating with investigating officers after a time, and police were unable to make a case.

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