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Gerald Camp

Other Philadelphia Exonerations
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Shortly after 8 p.m. on May 19, 2015, 22-year-old Eliezer Mendez was fatally shot in the chest near the 2000 block of East Stella Street in Kensington, Pennsylvania.

On June 11, 2015, Philadelphia Homicide Detective Philip Nordo arrested Rhaheem Friend, who was a witness and possibly a suspect in the murder. Friend told Nordo that he had a computer tablet that contained potential evidence in the murder and that it was in a closet at his sister’s house. Friend also said he had an illegal firearm in the closet.

Friend’s sister, identified as S.S., was in a relationship with then 27-year-old Gerald Camp. Friend and Nordo fabricated a story that allowed Nordo to seize the tablet and the gun, and protect Friend from being charged with possession of the gun.

The next day, June 12, 2015, Nordo instructed Friend to call S.S. to confirm that Camp was at her house. Nordo then drove to her house and searched the second-floor closet. After recovering the tablet and the gun in the closet, Nordo kept the tablet and charged Camp with possession of the weapon and with removing the serial number from it.

S.S. was adamant that the gun did not belong to Camp, and told Nordo that earlier that day Friend was in the bedroom where the closet was located.

However, S.S. backed off when Nordo threatened to call Child Protective Services if she continued to claim the gun belonged to her brother.

At Camp’s preliminary hearing in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, Nordo testified that “S.S. had informed him Mr. Camp lived in the front bedroom and the firearm belonged to Mr. Camp.”

On June 22, 2016, Camp went to trial in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. He chose to have the case decided by a judge without a jury. After hearing Nordo’s testimony, the judge convicted Camp of illegal possession of firearm and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.

In early 2017, while Camp was awaiting sentencing, his defense attorney, Andrew Pappas, subpoenaed the records of prison phone calls of Friend.

An examination of the calls showed that Friend and Nordo were communicating frequently. Nordo promised he would intervene in another criminal case against Friend. Nordo and Friend also made comments suggesting they had a sexual relationship. In addition, Friend said that “it was either me or him,” referring to Camp and the gun charges. Prison records also showed that Nordo had deposited at least $400 into Friend’s prison commissary account.

After Camp’s lawyer presented this evidence to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, the prosecution re-investigated the case and agreed to seek to vacate Camp’s conviction.

On April 11, 2017, Camp’s lawyer and the prosecution jointly requested that Camp’s conviction be vacated. The motion was granted and the charges were dismissed. Camp was released after 22 months in custody.

Nordo was immediately fired from the Philadelphia Police Department.

On December 6, 2018, following an investigation by the Philadelphia County District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit, the prosecution asked that the 2012 murder conviction of Jamaal Simmons be vacated and the charges were dismissed.

In January 2019, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News reported that several weeks before the dismissal, the primary witness against Simmons told the prosecution, including Patricia Cummings, the head of the Conviction Integrity Unit that after being held in the homicide unit for a day, Nordo had pressured him to falsely implicate Simmons.

On February 19, 2019, Nordo was charged with an array of crimes, including having sex with informants, stalking, and theft.

The investigation revealed that Philadelphia police were aware of complaints against Nordo from as early as 2005, accusing him of misuse of informants and inappropriate sexual coercion. Internal investigations had resulted in no discipline.

On February 27, 2019, Camp filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia and Philip Nordo seeking compensation for his wrongful conviction. The city agreed to settle the lawsuit for $200,000.

In April 2019, the Conviction Integrity Unit agreed to vacate and dismiss a third Nordo-related conviction—the 2012 conviction of James Frazier, who was serving a sentence of life without parole for a double murder. Frazier filed a lawsuit claiming Nordo used the threat oe sexual assault to coerce a false confession to the murders.

In May 2019, Cummings dismissed the 2016 murder conviction of Sherman McCoy, who falsely confessed during an interrogation by Nordo.

–Makayla Joy Rabago and Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 4/16/2019
Last Updated: 8/1/2019
State:Pennsylvania
County:Philadelphia
Most Serious Crime:Weapon Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:Other Nonviolent Felony
Reported Crime Date:2015
Convicted:2016
Exonerated:2017
Sentence:Not sentenced
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:27
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No