Family files lawsuit over man slain by police while looking for parking spot

After more than a year without hearing from officials on what caused the reportedly unprovoked police shooting that ended the life of 52-year-old Richard Ferretti, his family’s attorneys announced Tuesday that they are suing in the hopes of finding answers.

“We are at 398 days and counting,” said Kenneth M. Rothweiler, the attorney who is representing Lisa and Donald Newman, the sister and brother-in-law of Ferretti. “And we are waiting. And we are waiting.”

Ferretti was reportedly shot and killed by police officer Shannon Coolbaugh on the evening of May 4, 2016, while he was circling the 6300 block of Overbrook Avenue near St. Joseph’s University. Rothweiler said that Ferretti was looking for parking at around 1 a.m. that evening in the moments before he was fatally shot by police.

Since then, the attorney said, Ferretti’s family has heard no results of an internal police investigation into the shooting, no update on the work status of Coolbaugh — other than the fact that she has been taken off the street — and no results of a grand jury investigation into whether she should face charges. The DA’s office declined to comment on the case or the lawsuit.

“They don’t have any answers at all, and they deserve answers,” said Rothweiler. “We have heard nothing.”

According to Rothweiler, the officers involved in the lawsuit filed in Philly federal court — it is aimed at Coolbaugh, two unnamed officers and the city, and it seeks more than $150,000 in damages — acted against standard police procedure when they fired five times at a moving car, hitting Ferretti three times.

“They completely violated their own policies when they shot into that car and killed my client,” he said.

Rothweiler said that, on the night of the shooting, police were called because someone had seen Ferretti’s van driving suspiciously.

However, Rothweiler said that the responding officers had no reason to believe he was armed — he wasn’t — and after trying to get Ferretti to pull over, they fired into the driver’s side window of the vehicle after witnesses said they heard Ferretti scream “I’m stopping, I’m stopping.”

Also, Rothweiler said he recently visited the intersection at 63rd Street and Overbrook Avenue and noticed several surveillance cameras in the area. If footage exists from the night of the shooting, he said, they haven’t seen it, but they should.

In referencing police-involved fatal shootings that happened nationwide, Rothweiler said that the citizens of Philadelphia should be outraged that a fellow Philadelphian can get gunned down by police with no repercussions for the officers involved for over a year following the shooting. If video exists of the incident, he said, Rothweiler believes the community would be outraged by what happened that night.

“Where is the outrage? I think there’d be a lot more outrage if it was a racial issue. If it was a black/white issue,” he said. “But the outrage should be that a citizen of Philadelphia was killed for what appears to me to be no reason.”

Last year, in an interview with Philadelphia magazine reporter David Gambacorta, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said he had “serious concerns” with how the officers handled that situation. 

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