Philly Police Will Likely Face Questions Over Fatal Overbrook Shooting

iStockphoto.com | artolympic

iStockphoto.com | artolympic

Update: The man who was fatally shot by a police officer in Overbrook has been identified as Richard Ferretti, 52, of Andreas, Schuylkill County, a town more than 80 miles outside of Philadelphia, according to police records. Ferretti’s encounter with police might have been captured on a surveillance camera affixed to the front of an apartment building located at the end of the block where he was shot. Investigators are expected to review footage from the camera.

Two men were shot by Philadelphia Police in separate incidents late last night and early this morning, leaving one dead.

Plainclothes cops who were riding in an unmarked car in Overbrook about 12:30 a.m. responded to a radio call about a Dodge Caravan that was suspiciously circling the block near 63rd Street and Overbrook Avenue, said police spokesman Lt. John Stanford. The undercover cops started trailing the van. After a few spins around the block, they called for uniformed cops to head to the area as well.

The uniformed officers showed up in a marked patrol car and tried to stop the minivan, Stanford said. The undercover cops, meanwhile, cut in front of the van, got out of their car and tried to approach the van. “According to the one officer, the vehicle maneuvered in their direction, and he fired into the vehicle, striking the male driver in the chest,” Stanford said.

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The Philly Police Want You To Dig Through Their Data

A glimpse at car and pedestrian stops conducted by Philly cops earlier this year.

A glimpse at car and pedestrian stops conducted by Philly cops earlier this year.

Transparency, transparency and more transparency — that’s what people want from law enforcement in this post-Ferguson world.

The Philadelphia Police Department took a big step forward on that front last week by releasing a ton of information on violent crime, police-involved shootings and stop-and-frisk across the city as part of the Obama administration’s Police Data Initiative.

If you’re the kind of person who normally starts to zone out at the mention of data and charts, hang on. This is worth checking out, because we’re not that far removed from a time when this sort of information wasn’t readily available to the public. “The process had been one whereby you put in a request, and who knows how long it took to get that information, or if it was still relevant by the time you got it,” said Scott Charles, the Trauma Outreach Coordinator for Temple University Hospital. “Now it’s at your fingertips.” Read more »

Philly Police Officer Suspended For Allegedly Making Racist Remarks

Highway Patrol Images | Wikimedia Commons

Highway Patrol Images | Wikimedia Commons

Cpl. Robert Pawlowski was recently suspended for 30 days by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross for allegedly uttering a string of racially charged insults about an African-American commander and an African-American police officer in December.

Pawlowski was off-duty and hanging out at a lounge inside the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No.5’s Northeast Philly headquarters when he allegedly approached two white officers who worked in West Philly’s 18th District and described their boss, Capt. Robin Wimberly, as a “banana-eating monkey,” according to police records. Read more »

Willie Williams, Philly’s First African-American Police Commissioner, Has Died at 72

Willie Williams. Photos | Philadelphia Police Department

Willie Williams. Photos | Philadelphia Police Department

Sylvester Johnson‘s memories of Willie Williams stretch back 50 years, to a time when both men were young Philly cops, working for a Police Department that wasn’t exactly bending over backward to create opportunities for African-Americans.

The two men lived around the corner from each other. When promotional exams rolled around, they huddled together and studied, hoping like hell they’d do well enough to have a crack at moving up a rank. Williams climbed the ranks a little faster than Johnson, but didn’t forget his friend. “He was the one who made me a captain, and then made me an inspector,” Johnson said. “He was a mentor to me, and to a lot people.”

Johnson rummaged through these and other memories on Wednesday afternoon, just hours after he learned that Williams had died in Atlanta at age 72, following a lengthy illness. Williams was a trailblazer who will go down in history as the first African-American man to serve as police commissioner in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.  Read more »

Bizarre Early Morning Hit-and-Run Lands Two Police Officers in the Hospital

A confounding chain of events unfolded last night on the 700 block of North Broad Street, causing two police officers to be hospitalized. Police are still trying to put together exactly what took place around 2 a.m. this morning — and why.

At 2:16 a.m., two undercover officers in an unmarked car were traveling southbound on Broad Street when a black vehicle, which was driving eastbound from Brown Street, crashed into the passenger side of the officers’ vehicle and then left the scene. The black sedan fled southbound on Broad Street. The officers were wearing plain clothes and not in uniform at the time of the crash, according to CBS3.

The police car was a grey “2008 unmarked Ford Ranger truck,” according to police spokeswoman Tanya Little.   Read more »

Judge: Lawsuit in Brandon Tate-Brown Shooting Can Proceed

Attorney Brian Mildenberg (center), Tanya Brown-Dickerson (right), mother of Brandon Tate-Brown (Matt Rourke/AP)

Attorney Brian Mildenberg (center), Tanya Brown-Dickerson (right), mother of Brandon Tate-Brown. (Matt Rourke/AP)

Relatives of Brandon Tate-Brown, who was fatally shot during a violent struggle with two Philadelphia police officers in 2014, savored a legal victory today, as a federal court judge rejected a motion from city attorneys to dismiss the civil rights lawsuit that Tate-Brown’s family filed last fall.

Tate-Brown’s mother, Tanya Brown-Dickerson, released a statement through her attorney, Brian Mildenberg, that read: “I am relieved and gratified that the federal court denied the city’s motion to dismiss all claims in this lawsuit and look forward to our day in court when the police officers will have to answer for their changing stories and explain to a federal jury why they killed Brandon Tate-Brown when they now admit he was not reaching into his vehicle for a gun when they shot him in the back of the head.

But this development — much like the case itself — is anything but simple. Let’s try to make sense of everything.

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Senator Casey and Commissioner Ross: This New Smartphone Gun Must Be Stopped

cell-phone-gun

Right now, when you picture a handgun, the silhouette doesn’t resemble the iPhone in your pocket. Sen. Bob Casey and Philly Police Commissioner Richard Ross want to keep it that way.

The two joined forces, along with Pittsburgh Chief of Police Cameron McLay, to write a letter urging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to investigate smartphone guns, a new invention set to hit markets next fall.

Ideal Conceal, a company in Monticello, Minnesota, has manufactured a gun that passably resembles a pewter grey smartphone. CEO Kirk Kjellburg wants to sell these .380 caliber pieces for around $400, but Casey and Ross want ATF to intervene.

In a press conference, Casey acknowledged he usually doesn’t get involved with one company’s product. But for this, he’s making an exception.  Read more »

Did Accused Cop Shooter Smuggle a Gun Into Jail?

Left: Scott Griffin Right: Officer James McCullough

Left: Scott Griffin Right: Officer James McCullough

A female prisoner couldn’t believe what she saw Scott Griffin do inside a police holding cell, just a month before he allegedly shot a young Philly cop.

Let’s rewind to March 16th. Griffin and another man, Keith Wilkinson, were being held at the 18th District’s headquarters in West Philadelphia for suspected car theft. A detective showed up at the district’s holding cells to interview a woman who was being held in an unrelated case.

She had an urgent tip for the detective. “There’s a gun in the trashcan,” she told him, according to police records obtained by Philadelphia magazine. “That guy put a gun in the trashcan.”  Read more »

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