Philadelphia Police crack down on ATVs and motorcycles after viral assault video


Philadelphia Police embarked on a multiday, citywide operation to crack down on illegal ATVs and dirt bikes, confiscating 23 vehicles in just two days, in the wake of a viral Center City assault Sunday night in which a motorcyclist destroyed the back window of a 23-year-old woman’s car with her family inside.

Here’s what we know about the incident and the ensuing two-day crackdown on illegal ATVs and dirt bikes.

What happened Sunday?

At around 8:45 p.m. Sunday, Cody Heron, 26, got off his motorcycle across from City Hall, jumped up on the back of a Ford Fusion, and proceeded to stomp on and shatter the back window, police said. He then headbutted the driver, Nikki Bullock, with his helmet after she came out to confront him. The incident was caught on video and later went viral.

Bullock told The Inquirer’s Jenice Armstrong she was making deliveries for Uber Eats when the motorcyclist hit the side of her car and the two exchanged words.

After the exchange, Heron stomped out the back window, right above where Bullock’s two-year-old son and five-year-old daughter were sitting. A tint on the inner part of the back window was the only thing that kept the glass from raining on the children, Bullock told Armstrong. Bullock then stepped out of the car after Heron broke the windshield, where their interaction escalated and he is seen pointing a gun to her face.

The assault, captured on video filmed by a tourist riding a double-decker bus that was behind the confrontation, quickly went viral after it was posted on Instagram, garnering millions of views and highlighting what many Philadelphia residents view as a persistent and dangerous problem: throngs of ATV and dirt bike riders riding unsafely and recklessly through city streets.

What was authorities’ response?

Police began to investigate after Bullock filed a police report Sunday night. The now-viral video triggered a flood of tips, Interim First Deputy Commissioner Frank Vanore said during a Wednesday news conference.

After sifting through the tips, police identified Heron, of the 4500 block of East Stiles Street, and arrested him Tuesday night.

When police arrested Heron, they found a loaded 9mm handgun seen in the video, authorities said. Police also found the gold-and-black helmet, a T-shirt with the words “You Ain’t No Killa” on the back, and sneakers and pants also seen in the video.

Police also confiscated the motorcycle Heron was allegedly riding.

Heron was charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault and related crimes. He was being held on bail set at 10% of $2,500,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 16.

In a statement, Heron’s attorney Justin Capek said Heron has no criminal history and that he had a permit to carry a concealed firearm. Authorities previously said Heron had a license to carry the handgun seen in the video.

“We have only viewed a small portion of a much lengthier video, which when viewed in its entirety, will portray a much clearer and complete illustration of the incident,” Capek said.

What did Philadelphia Police do to combat illegal ATVs and dirt bikes?

On Wednesday and Thursday, police across the city confiscated 23 ATVs and dirt bikes, said Sgt. Eric Gripp, department spokesperson.

Although the start of this week’s operation coincided with Heron’s arrest, it was not sparked by the incident, Gripp said, and was one of many operations the department conducts throughout the year.

“This is just getting more attention on it now, people are asking more questions about it now, because of that video, to what they saw,” said Gripp.

Philadelphia Police have confiscated 149 ATVs and dirt bikes so far this year, said Gripp. Since the first week of September alone, the department confiscated 60 of the vehicles.

While the video did not prompt a more concerted effort to crack down, Gripp said it did appear to increase public attention and more people were sending in tips to police on illegal ATVs and dirt bikes.

“We’re gonna continue to evolve our techniques until the message gets out there that our streets, our sidewalks, our rec centers, are not the area to take part in this activity,” Gripp said. It’s not harmless. it’s not a joke. It’s not a game.”

Staff writer Ellie Rushing contributed reporting.


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