Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Indiewire logo

Can the Documentary "Patrolman P" Free an Innocent Man?

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik November 14, 2013 at 9:57AM

One of the great claims to fame of Errol Morrris's landmark documentary "The Thin Blue Line"--aside from its formalistic daring--is that it helped free an innocent man. I don't know the legal logistics it would take to reopen a more than 40-year-old double murder conviction, but Ido Mizrahy's new documentary "Patrolman P"--premiering at DOC NYC this Saturday--may have the potential to do just that.
0

One of the great claims to fame of Errol Morrris's landmark documentary "The Thin Blue Line"--aside from its formalistic daring--is that it helped free an innocent man. I don't know the legal logistics it would take to reopen a more than 40-year-old double murder conviction, but Ido Mizrahy's new documentary "Patrolman P"--premiering at DOC NYC this Saturday--may have the potential to do just that. Writing for my Docutopia column this week at SundanceNow, I singled out the film for its compelling storyline of a bad cop, William Phillips, who took part in New York City's culture of corruption in the 1970s, ratted out his fellow policemen, and was later arrested and convicted for a murder he vows he did not commit. If it weren't for certain stylistic choices, "The story of 'P'," I wrote, "would make for a great Errol Morrisian tale of the thin line between good and bad, truth and lies."

Mizrahy and his writer-producer and narrating journalist Geoffrey Gray aren't the first to explore Phillips case. When he was finally patrolled a few years ago, the Village Voice published a story that investigated Phillip's claims of innocence. Michael Armstrong, the chief counsel for the Knapp Commission, in which Phillips provided damning testimony about police corruption, said he thinks that Phillips is serving time for another man's crimes. "More than anything," Armstrong told the Voice, "I don't think Bill did it because I don't think the proof adds up."

If Phillips is still considered a stool-pigeon and a murderer among the minds of many, "Patrolman P" suggests that one of those labels may need revaluation.

Follow us

E-Mail Updates



Recent Comments

By Bob Connors: The thing to remember is the video has some actual data but it's conclusions are far fetched and inaccurate. This is a Progressive propaghand…

Who is "Politizane" and What's Next for the Income Inequality Viral Video

Mar 21th, 2015 8:47am

By Ostlee: This makes very sad reading - i feel for the people of Maldives. Everyone should boycott the island as a holiday destination until Nasheed…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 13th, 2015 5:35pm

By Ahmed Shahid: Release the first democratically elected president. The only president of Maldives who has reached the people of Maldives, heard them and…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 12th, 2015 9:37am

By Hanne Neve: Please take care of your country and the climate by freeing your real selektet president.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 11th, 2015 9:09am

By Iqbal: Please release President Nasheed

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 10:27pm

By Martha Robertson: I strongly urge the immediate release of Nasheed!

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 9:37pm

By Ned Rollins: Bad business, going to bite you.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 3:47pm

By John Painter: The guy isnt a terrorist.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 12:00pm

By Sofia Vera: I support Presdient Nasheed and add my name to this letter of support for his release.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 11:14am

By Margarett R Mulkey: A civilized society is required of the current government of the Maldives. The world is watching injustice and crimes, and many realized thes…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 10:53am