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Officials: Race had no role in Philly police beating

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  • NEW: Suspect's attorney says police "should be charged as criminals," fired
  • Mayor "tremendously disappointed" by unprofessional conduct
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PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- The videotaped beatings of three restrained men by several members of the Philadelphia police force were inexcusable but had nothing to do with race, the city's mayor and police commissioner said Thursday.

Aerial footage from WTXF shows police officers beating suspects in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

"There's no excuse for that type of behavior, and we certainly want to take action," Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.

Mayor Michael Nutter said he was "tremendously disappointed" by the officers' behavior and vowed to deal with the matter.

"The conduct was unacceptable," he said. "It did not live up to the professional standards we have set for the police department." Video Watch the officers pummel the men »

He added that the incident has "virtually nothing to do with race; it has to do with crime."

"This is about proper police conduct, regardless of the race or ethnicity of the individuals involved," Nutter said. "We are not satisfied with the activity; it does not matter what the race of any particular defendant is."

Nutter and Ramsey appeared on CNN to discuss the beatings that were captured on video by a television news helicopter and broadcast across the nation. Video See the community reaction to the case »

The video, shot Monday, shows at least a dozen predominantly white police officers pulling three African-American men out of a car after a pursuit.

The officers are seen kicking, punching and striking the suspects with batons while the men lie restrained on the ground.

Two of the men were struck at least 20 times each.

The officers had seen the suspects fire shots, injuring three people standing on a street corner, before fleeing in a vehicle, the commissioner said. A fourth suspect escaped on foot, he said.

Ramsey said a sergeant and five officers were removed from street duty while an internal investigation continues. Authorities are working to identify which officers took part in what Ramsey called "unacceptable" activity.

He said Wednesday that he has been in contact with the district attorney's office, which will receive a copy of the tape and decide whether to file criminal charges.

The suspects were identified by police as Dawayne Dyches, 24; Brian Hall, 23; and Pete Hopkins, 19. All were charged with several felonies including aggravated assault.

Ramsey said Wednesday that although it's not an excuse, the officers were stressed and emotions were running high in the department after the weekend killing of a fellow officer.

On Saturday, Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski was killed with an assault rifle while attempting to apprehend bank robbery suspects. One suspect was killed by officers in the confrontation, and the other two have been arrested.

"I don't believe it is stress," said Lemoia Dyches, the mother of Dawayne Dyches. "You see 14 white police officers beating three black males. In my area where I live at, I can see it constantly."

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Dyches' attorney said police, and not his client, should be facing criminal charges.

"They should be dismissed from the police force and charged as criminals, because that was criminal behavior; that was not police work," Scott Perrine said.

CNN's Jason Carroll contributed to this report.

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