Dina Scannapieco is on a mission. Again. Three years ago, after her boyfriend Najee Rivera was beaten by Philadelphia police, Scannapieco scoured the neighborhood and found video footage that resulted in aggravated assault charges against two cops, who go to trial in April. And now that Rivera was gunned down this past December at the age of 23, the mother of two is determined to put the man who killed him behind bars.
The incident occurred on December 5th near the intersection of C and Somerset streets in Kensington. According to police, Rivera stepped in the middle of an altercation involving two women, and a man who knew the women allegedly shot Rivera in his side.
Originally, Rivera seemed like he would recover, but he died at Temple University Hospital 15 days after the shooting, leaving behind Scannapieco, their daughter, and a stepson.
Police launched an investigation but came up with few leads.
“There were a lot of people who witnessed the shooting,” says Scannapieco, who was not present when it happened. “But they all live by the code: No snitching.”
Although the witnesses didn’t want to talk to police, Scannapieco thought maybe they would talk to her, so she hired a private investigator and the two got to work.
“I went to the corner and just started knocking on doors,” she says. “And before you know it, I have people calling me, sending me info on Facebook and Instagram, telling me all kinds of information. They’re ‘dry snitching.’ They want me to have this information and to give it to the cops, but they don’t want to talk to the cops themselves.”
Scannapieco passed the information she received to police, including the identity of the man she believes to be the shooter. But two months after the shooting, there are still no charges, a fact that angers the 30-year-old mom.
“I see all the time on the news since he died, they are talking about all these murders,” she says. “But no one is saying anything about Najee.”
A source close to the investigation says that interviews were recently conducted with some of the witnesses that Scannapieco brought to light and that an arrest could come as early as next week. But as far as Rivera’s girlfriend is concerned, that’s not soon enough.
“‘Next week… Next week…’ That’s what they’ve been saying to me since this happened,” she chides. “I just want this to be over. It’s been a nightmare.”
A $20,000 has been offered in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call 215-686-TIPS or the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334.
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