Activists demanding answers about the fatal shooting of a black man last month barged into the Philadelphia managing director’s office on Monday, before later protesting at a meeting of the Police Advisory Commission.
Local Black Lives Matter organizer Asa Khalif and activist Isaac Gardner heatedly questioned the city’s managing director, Michael DiBerardinis, about the shooting of David Jones, 30, on June 8, after they and fellow activists entered his office in Center City.
But DiBerardinis, whose responsibilities include oversight of some police department activity through his public safety division, declined to comment on any aspect of the investigation into the shooting, which according to a preliminary police report, occurred as Jones was fleeing from Officer Ryan Pownall.
“Is it standard police pratice – let’s leave David Jones out for a second – to shoot a suspect when they’re fleeing in the back?” Khalif demanded.
DiBerardinis declined to make any assertion about the case and said he had not seen grainy surveillance video of the shooting broadcast by NBC10, but he promised to provide the activists with an update on the case within 48 hours.
“I’m not suggesting that your outrage is not warranted,” he told them. “What I’m saying is I do not have the authority or the information … to comment on the details.”
Jones was reportedly riding his motorcycle on June 8 when Pownall, who was transporting witnesses to the Special Victims Unit, pulled Jones over. A preliminary police report said Jones pulled a gun, then fled before being shot by the officer. A loaded 9mm belonging to Jones was recovered from the scene.
But an alleged witness to the shooting, the man who was being transported in Pownall’s car, has come forward to say Jones dropped the gun before he began to flee and was shot.
“He did not inform this man he was under arrest,” claimed Terrance A., who declined to identify himself due to personal safety concerns. “He did not ask his name. How did he know if he was licensed to have the gun? That, to me, gives you the right to resist.”
Terrance was being transported to Special Victims to report the kidnapping and possible sexual assault of his son in Frankford when Pownall saw Jones driving erratically and went to pull him over. Terrance claimed Pownall shot Jones with his Taser, then pulled a gun and shot him three times.
The police department is not commenting on the case, which is reportedly under investigation by Internal Affairs.
Terrance said he went to the DA’s office to give a deposition, but did not because he was not allowed to have journalist and activist Chris Norris join him. Now he’s asking for witness protection before speaking to prosecutors.
He added that he is “getting nothing out of this,” but is sharing the story out of a desire to do the right thing: “I’m not going to tell a lie. The one thing I can tell you is what I saw,” he said. “If something happened to me, I would want someone to give my family closure.”