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City to Pay $1.2M In Police Shooting of Unarmed Man

City to Pay $1.2M In Police Shooting of Unarmed Man

Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix

April 08, 2011

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia will pay $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed in the death of a man fatally shot by police responding to New Year’s Eve gunfire.

Bryan Jones, 20, was picking up his teen nephew from a friend’s house when gunfire erupted nearby. The pair were trying to escape down a rear alley when Jones was shot. Officer Steven Szczepkowski said he fired after seeing one person with a gun and a second, Jones, reaching for his waistband.

The family sued the city. A federal judge refused to throw out the lawsuit, ruling in February that a jury could find that the officer used excessive force and acted with willful misconduct.

“I didn’t want it just pushed under the carpet, because it was a tragedy and they (police) were at fault,” his mother, Gloria Jones, 57, told The Associated Press on Thursday. “He was an innocent person trying to get out of harm’s way.”

Jones was unarmed when he was shot twice in the head that night, family lawyer Bruce Ginsburg said.

Former District Attorney Lynne Abraham had cleared Szczepkowski, one of several officers on the scene, of wrongdoing. She said that Jones was known to carry a gun, had gunpowder in his waistband, and had failed to halt or put up his hands.

Authorities recovered 155 shell casings and cartridges from 14 different weapons in and around two row houses where the gunfire had broken out. Nine men were detained, some of whom were charged with shooting at police, but the charges were dropped due to the difficulty of determining who had fired upon whom.

Jones’ death fueled criticism that Philadelphia police were too quick to fire their weapons. In 2006 and 2007 alone, 42 civilians were killed by police.

A year later, police chasing an armed reveler shot into a house filled with New Year’s Eve partygoers, killing a 33-year-old man and leaving another man injured and a 9-year-old boy with a graze wound to the chest.

The police department’s internal affairs unit had questioned whether Szczepkowski violated the deadly force policy, but a department review board later exonerated him, a city solicitor said.

“Nobody can say what his circumstances were but him,” Chief Deputy Solicitor Craig Straw said.

The city settled the lawsuit Tuesday without admitting any wrongdoing. Szczepkowski, after further weapons training, remains on the job, Straw said.

The city was prepared to defend the lawsuit at trial, but settled rather than risk a costly jury verdict, Straw said.

Jones had a job and no police record, potentially making him a more sympathetic victim, he said. Lawsuits over fatal police shootings typically settle for about $100,000 because they involve victims who were carrying weapons, had committed crimes or had police records, he said.

The police department did not immediately return a call for comment, and a home number for the officer could not be found.

Ginsburg also represents two other police gunfire victims, including the child grazed by the police bullet. The lawsuits over the latter New Year’s Eve police shootings are still pending, he said.

The attorney believes the Jones settlement suggests a changing attitude among city officials, including a police chief and district attorney who came aboard since Jones’ death.

“I hope that they’re being more realistic about what occurs out there, and that police can make a mistake, and do make a mistake,” Ginsburg said.


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  • Bike2008-22_max50

    Tbones2469

    about 3 years ago

    168 Comments

    Philadelphia is like the wild west in some areas, as are alll our major cities. The problem boils down to people that do not respect each other and much less us, the team in blue. I may be wrong but I think PPD had the highest Officers Killed in the line of duty during 2007. That speaks volumes to me, Make sure you go home after your shift!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    jassmith

    about 3 years ago

    6 Comments

    It is pleasure a going through your post. I have bookmarked you to check out new stuff from your side.
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  • Th_detective_max50

    Retleo

    about 3 years ago

    5524 Comments

    Not getting "Pissy" at all DeLox, not my style. Just pointing out the facts of the story. No need to go personal attack and name calling. As for "getting out", I do just fine thank you very much.

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    Delox77

    about 3 years ago

    22 Comments

    Retleo, don't get pissy at me cause I just kinda glanced over the article and looked at the comments below. You need to get out more guy. You are nerd raging on a blog. LoL Police-link = Serious business for you i take it.

  • Th_detective_max50

    Retleo

    about 3 years ago

    5524 Comments

    Delox77 the 155 rounds and the 14 guns came from the locals who were shooting at each other, not the Police who responded to the scene. Read the story again!

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    Delox77

    about 3 years ago

    22 Comments

    1.2 million is a slap on the wrist. I would set my claim to at least 10 million bottom dollars for the shout out at the OK Coral. Were these officers in prayer to land a shot. 155 rounds from 14 different guns. All of them need to just give up their badge.

  • Pug_max600_max50

    DALLASCRANE

    about 3 years ago

    19386 Comments

    A jury trial could cost the city ten times the settlement and drag on for years. Officer Steven Szczepkowski had and made a difficult choice. No one could see what he saw unfolding from his perspective.

  • Th_detective_max50

    Retleo

    about 3 years ago

    5524 Comments

    Sounds like the men and women of PPD are working in Wild West City, 155 shell casings from 14 different weapons? Wow! And I am sure that all 14 weapons were legally owned by fine upstanding citizens of the City of Philadelphia.
    Former District Attorney Lynne Abraham had cleared Szczepkowski, one of several officers on the scene, of wrongdoing. She said that Jones was known to carry a gun, had gunpowder in his waistband, and had failed to halt or put up his hands.
    This alone speaks volumes to me as to the lifestyle of Mr. Jones.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    tremor2

    about 3 years ago

    430 Comments

    Tragic for all involved. The City of Philly was smart to settle the suit, as the victim has no criminal record.
    Can't second guess the cop involved, I wasn't there, can't say what was going through his mind at the time...
    but my God, reading about all the shell casings recovered, from 14 different weapons? Cops responding to
    all that on the night in question were riding straight into a war zone. I'm surprised more people weren't
    shot that night, with all that going on....and on a city street....unbelievable!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 3 years ago

    Szczepkowski was cleared by both the DA, IA, and a departmental review board, sounds like a good shoot to me, perhaps not the best response, but I wasn't there and do not wish to 2nd guess Szczepkowski.

  • Imag0190_max50

    OS441

    about 3 years ago

    1038 Comments

    This is very tragic, and by what is displayed here, may have been a bad shoot. However, if the Officer did command them to stop running and put their hands up, the man should have complied. I am not condoning the need to shoot, however, not having enough information to go on made it become a difficult decision for the Officer.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    BForJuvCor

    about 3 years ago

    846 Comments

    Very tragic for all involved, especially since the Philadelphia PD has seen alot of negative media attention in the past year.

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