- Associated Press - Thursday, December 24, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A man at the center of a 2013 police brutality case has died from gunshot wounds he suffered earlier this month.

Najee Rivera, 23, died Sunday at Temple University Hospital, where he was taken 15 days earlier after being shot during a street fight, Philly.com (https://bit.ly/1Pms9fD ) reported. Nobody has been charged in his death.

Rivera will be the focus of the April trial of patrol officers Sean McKnight, 30, and Kevin Robinson, 29.

Prosecutors contend the officers knocked the North Philadelphia man off his scooter and beat him without provocation in May 2013. The officers have denied that through their attorneys, who have argued the traffic stop and the physical force they used against Rivera were justified.

The officers are charged with assault, conspiracy and false arrest for allegedly beating Rivera, then lying to cover it up by claiming Rivera attacked them. They are free on bond. The officers claimed Rivera threw Robinson into a brick wall and grabbed for McKnight’s baton, but that was disproven by surveillance video that Rivera’s girlfriend was able to locate by canvassing the neighborhood, prosecutors said.

On Dec. 5, Rivera was shot once in the right side of his torso during a fight that grew out of an argument. Witnesses scattered as police in an unmarked car responded when they heard a gunshot.

Several men were helping to move Rivera, who collapsed near the officer’s car.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Rivera lost a maintenance job at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in the years since he was beaten and the mother of his child got a restraining order against him. Rivera was also charged with harassment and drug possession in October, the newspaper said.

The city paid Rivera $200,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from the beating, but Rivera told the newspaper earlier this year that he spent much of that money on legal fees and medical bills.

“My plan is to start from the bottom again,” Rivera told the paper.


Information from: Philly.com, https://www.philly.com/

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