On February 8, 2016, Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy and a friend was accused of assaulting two off-duty police officers at a nightclub in Philadelphia. Both officers were hospitalized after the incident and an investigation is in progress. Paul Cambria, a criminal defense attorney known throughout the country for his work in high-profile cases, spoke to WBEN about the accusations against McCoy. The full interview is available on the WBEN website.
Presumption of innocence
When asked about why McCoy has not been taken into police custody, Mr. Cambria told John Zach and Susan Rose that “the presumption of innocence should be there. We don’t know how it started.” When asked about the video evidence of the incident, Mr. Cambria expressed concern that the video may not show the whole story. “Does the video show LeSean hitting him first?” Mr. Cambria asked. “You need to know what the details are.”
Need clarification of events
Mr. Cambria went on to explain that understanding the sequence of events is critical to a case like this. “Unless we know [the details],” he said, “we don’t know whether a crime was committed or not.” He also explained the defense lawyer’s role in these cases, saying, “Everybody assumes they did something wrong. And your entire fight as a defense lawyer is basically trying to spin the presumption of innocence the other way around because there’s this presumption of guilt.”
Mr. Cambria reminded WBEN that getting clarification of the events may take a long time. “I think it’ll be a while,” he said. “You’ve seen some of the cases that I’ve had. It took months before the truth came out and, you know, you have to deal with it.”
Handling public scrutiny
John Zach asked Mr. Cambria if it’s possible that McCoy and his friend were defending themselves. “Absolutely,” Mr. Cambria responded. “We don’t know here and we have to try to keep an open mind. It’s difficult, but you have to do it.” When Susan Rose asked about McCoy’s being out at a different bar and speculating about his exoneration, Mr. Cambria also spoke about how the accused in these high-profile cases may want to act in public. “I think you should go out and act normally like you haven’t done something wrong, but realize that […] the eyes of the world will be on you and everything you do.”
About Paul J. Cambria
The chair of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria advises clients on criminal trials, criminal appeals, constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense. He divides his time between the firm’s offices in Buffalo and Los Angeles.