Philly Pays $4.4 Million Settlement For ‘Regrettable’ Police Shooting
One of the most troubling police shootings in recent Philadelphia history has led to a massive payout.
The Kenney administration announced on Friday that a $4.4 million settlement has been reached to resolve lawsuits filed by Philippe Holland, a local pizza deliveryman who was left critically injured when a pair of undercover cops fired 14 shots at him in the spring of 2014.
That Holland, now 23, survived the disastrous encounter was practically a miracle. On the night of April 22nd, Holland headed out to Willows Avenue near 51st Street in West Philly to make a delivery for Slices & More Pizzeria and Grill, the Upper Darby shop where he worked.
Two police officers — Mitchell Farrell and Kevin Hanvey — were already in the area, sitting in an unmarked police car. The cops heard gunshots ring out near 51st and Baltimore Avenue, and spotted Holland walking along 51st Street with his hands in his pockets.
According to a summary of the incident posted on the Police Department’s website, Farrell and Hanvey identified themselves as police officers and told Holland to stop, but he climbed into a Ford Taurus, and “drove the vehicle initially in reverse, and then forward toward the officers.”
A lawsuit filed in 2015 on Holland’s behalf by attorney Tom Kline argued that Farrell and Hanvey didn’t identify themselves; Holland allegedly thought the pair was getting ready to rob him. (It’s not exactly uncommon for pizza deliverymen to get robbed or assaulted in the city.) When he tried to drive away, the officers fired a combined 14 times at him.
According to the lawsuit, Holland was struck in the head, face and leg, and lost control of the Ford, which slammed into a fence. He was handcuffed, put in the back of a police cruiser and taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was admitted in critical condition. It’s worth noting here that Holland was never implicated in the shooting; in fact, there was no description of any suspect.
“We will strive to ensure that tragedies such as this do not happen again in our city. The Philadelphia Police Department has agreed under the settlement to implement a new training protocol for all current and new plainclothes police officers,” City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante said in a statement.
Kline told the Associated Press that Holland suffers from a seizure disorder and chronic pain. Farrell and Hanvey are both still on the police force, and have been on desk duty since the shooting unfolded. Lt. John Stanford, a department spokesman, said disciplinary action against the officers is still pending. “I can’t imagine how this has impacted his life forever,” Stanford said of Holland.
In announcing the massive settlement, Kenney’s administration described the shooting as “an unfortunate, regrettable series of events.” Another word could be added to that mix, though: familiar.
Last May, an undercover police officer shot and killed a 52-year-old man named Richard Ferretti near St. Joseph’s University. Police tried to pull over Ferretti, who was looping through his neighborhood in his minivan while looking for a parking spot. The undercover cop allegedly pulled in front of Ferretti and fired into the van, striking him in the chest.
In both episodes, the officers violated a departmental policy that forbids shooting at moving vehicles.
The Police Department has been working to drive down the number of officer-involved shootings in recent years. Fourteen people were shot by cops in 2016, five of whom died; it was a far cry from 2012, when 52 people were shot by police, and 15 died.
The much higher figures prompted then-Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to review the city’s use-of-force policies. The DOJ issued a report with 91 recommendations. As of December 31st, the city has implemented 61 so far, and 25 others have been partially completed or are in the process of being implemented.
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