WATCH: Protest Over Tate-Brown Shooting Turns Violent at Community Meeting

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Thursday night’s town hall on policing at Lawncrest Recreation Center was scheduled weeks before D.A. Seth Williams announced that he would not bring charges in the killing of Brandon Tate-Brown. But that announcement today assured that emotions would be running high, and just as soon as the meeting opened with the introduction of Commissioner Charles Ramsey, protest broke out. Things escalated from there. The meeting eventually resumed; numerous protesters were reportedly arrested, none requiring medical attention. Read more »

A Lesson for Seth Williams in Kathleen Kane’s Abandoned Sting

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Let’s give Seth Williams a round of applause.

I’m not being facetious here. Williams’ decision to take Kathleen Kane’s “double-dog dare” last year and pursue charges against Philly Democrats caught on tape accepting cash and gifts has been a triumph on several counts: Politically, he’s come across as a stalwart prosecutor and made Kane look feckless by comparison. His decision has also been a small-but needed-victory over the everyday corruption most of us assume pervades this city’s politics.

But the experience offers a lesson Williams almost certainly doesn’t want to learn.  Read more »

Trial Starts for Cops in Federal Case

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The federal trial for the six former Philadelphia police officers accused of robbing and extorting drug dealers is set to begin this week, with jury selection expected to begin on Tuesday.

The officers — Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, John Speiser and Linwood Norman — were part of the narcotics unit in the Philadelphia Police Department

“The enterprise (1) conducted traffic stops of vehicles driven or occupied by persons suspected of being engaged in criminal activity and robbed such persons of money, drugs, and property; (2) entered premises used or occupied by persons suspected of being engaged in criminal activity and stole money and property; and (3) shared proceeds illegally obtained from individuals and premises,” federal prosecutors said, summing up the case in a pretrial memorandum filed March 6. Read more »

Michael Nutter Wants 16 Times as Many Police Body Cameras Next Year

Photo Credit: Matt Rourke | AP

Photo Credit: Matt Rourke | AP

For the past few months, a police district in North Philadelphia has equipped about 30 cops with body cameras as part of a pilot program. If Mayor Michael Nutter gets his way, police around the city will be provided with an additional 450 body cameras in the coming year.

Nutter has set aside an extra $500,000 in his proposed 2015-16 budget to purchase, store and install the cameras.

Read more »

Feds Postpone Release of Philly Police Report

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. Photo Credit: AP | Matt Rourke

The U.S. Department of Justice was planning to release a long-awaited review Friday of the Philadelphia Police Department’s use of force. Officials did not explain the delay, but it came while the police department was reeling from the death of Officer Robert Wilson in a North Philly shooting on Thursday.

Ramsey asked for the examination following a spike in shootings by police.

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Officials Praise Fallen Philly Officer

We have some more details this morning about the death of Officer Robert Wilson, the Philadelphia police officer shot and killed Thursday while responding to a robbery at a North Philadelphia GameStop.

NBC 10:

Wilson, who was in full uniform, along with his partner, went inside the GameStop at the Hope Plaza Shopping Center on 2101 West Lehigh Avenue around 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Suddenly, two armed men came inside and announced a robbery.

Wilson immediately confronted the pair, leading to a shootout. The suspects, who were on both sides of the officer, shot at him several times at close range as Wilson returned fire, officials said.

“Even though he was being struck multiple times, he continued to fire until the fatal [[shot]] was fired,” Ramsey said.

Read more »

Officer Killed in North Philly Shooting

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UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.: Mayor Nutter, Commissioner Ramsey, and D.A. Seth Williams finished a press conference at 13th and Ontario streets a short while ago (video from Fox29 below). Officer Robert Wilson III, an eight-year veteran of the force working out of the 22nd District, died at 6:25 p.m. from injuries sustained after exchanging gunfire at close range with two men attempting to rob a GameStop in North Philadelphia. Officer Damian Stephenson, Wilson’s partner, and other officers responding to the shooting were able to apprehend the two suspects, who have yet to be named.

Office Wilson is survived by two children, ages nine and one.

Governor Tom Wolf issued the following statement:

“My deepest condolences are with Officer Robert Wilson’s family tonight and his colleagues at the Philadelphia Police Department, especially the officers of the 22nd District. This senseless act is devastating and a stark reminder of the danger faced everyday by our brave men and women in uniform. Across Pennsylvania, members of law enforcement and our first responders put their lives on the line to protect our families and our communities. We can never forget their selfless service and sacrifice.”

UPDATE, 6:23 p.m.: The Inquirer is reporting the officer, identified as Robert Wilson, has died.

[Original 5:56 p.m.] Philadelphia Police are confirming that an officer was shot in an incident just before 5 p.m. at the GameStop at 2101 West Lehigh Avenue. Read more »

Ramsey-Led Policing Commission Makes Recommendations

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, co-chair,  the President's Task Force on 21 Century Policing, listens to witnesses at the Newseum in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, co-chair, the President’s Task Force on 21 Century Policing, listens to witnesses at the Newseum in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The presidential task force on 21st century policing led by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has issued its “interim” report. Ramsey will hold a press conference on the findings this morning with Philly media.

NBC News reports:

In a report released Monday, Obama’s task force on police reform did not embrace proposed policies like requiring police officers to wear body cameras or linking federal funding for local police departments to requirements all of their officers undergo racial bias training.

The 11-person task force, chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Laurie Robinson, a professor of criminology at George Mason University, instead recommended less sweeping changes.

Its “overarching recommendation” was for Obama to create a so-called National Crime and Justice Task Force to suggest more ideas. The report also urged, as civil rights leaders have long demanded, that police departments collect more precise data about the race and other demographic characteristics of people who are stopped and arrested.

Read more »

Remembering the 2000 Philadelphia RNC: Puppets, Police and The Rock

House Speaker Dennis Hastert and World Wrestling Federation champion The Rock raise their hands at the podium at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia on August 2nd, 2000.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert and World Wrestling Federation champion The Rock raise their hands at the podium at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia on August 2nd, 2000.

On July 12th, 2000, Philadelphia police engaged in a shootout with 30-year-old Thomas Jones. An Action News helicopter followed the ensuing police chase, and showed police beating and kicking Jones. “Clearly, the activity on the tape is troubling,” then-Mayor John Street said at a hastily organized press conference that night. “We have unanswered concerns.” The Inquirer did a frame-by-frame analysis of 28 seconds of video and said Jones was hit “at least 59 times.”

Jones eventually pleaded guilty to a series of robberies and assaults surrounding the incident. A 2002 grand jury said criminal charges weren’t warranted against the officers, though Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson later issued suspensions for 15 officers. (John Timoney was commissioner at the time of the 2000 RNC.) But the incident, just a few weeks before the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, was an inauspicious omen. The Daily News ran a still of the officers on its cover with the headline “WELCOME AMERICA.” Some were later found to be selling the cover on a t-shirt to cops. Read more »

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