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Phila. Police Officer to Lose Job Over Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Man

Phila. Police Officer to Lose Job Over Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Man

The Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix

January 05, 2010

The off-duty police officer who shot and killed an unarmed 21-year-old man in November during a street fight will be stripped of his badge, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey announced yesterday.

Frank Tepper, 43, a 16-year veteran of the force, committed “numerous violations” of Police Department procedures when he opened fire on William Panas Jr. in the Port Richmond neighborhood where they both lived, according to an investigation by the department’s Internal Affairs Division.

As of yesterday, Tepper was suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss him. He could not be reached for comment.

Panas’ father, William Sr., said Ramsey called him to deliver the news.

“This is a great day,” Panas said yesterday, his voice breaking. “This means he can’t kill someone else’s child while calling himself police.”

A police cruiser was parked outside Tepper’s home yesterday – police have guarded his house on Elkhart Street since the Nov. 21 shooting – and a memorial to Panas remained in place across the street.

Tepper has since moved to an undisclosed location.

Tepper also might face criminal charges. Last month, then-District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham announced a grand-jury probe into the case. That investigation is continuing and has no bearing on the decision to fire Tepper, Ramsey said in a news release.

District Attorney R. Seth Williams, who took office yesterday, said through a spokesman that he planned to review the case file today.

Said the elder Panas: “What we most want is for [Tepper] to be charged with murdering my son. We’re very grateful he’s been terminated, but the fact is he murdered my son for nothing. He should be punished for that.”

The shooting of Panas, a well-known Port Richmond native who planned to open a corner barbershop, sparked outrage, particularly among neighbors of Tepper. Many have described Tepper as a hot-tempered bully often at war with the teenagers and young adults in his community.

Tepper also has a history of reaching for his gun to settle disputes.

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