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Philadelphia Pays Out Millions to Settle Police Shootings

by Ed Lyon

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Supposedly the “city of brotherly love.” The sentiment expressed in the moniker is apparently not shared, observed, or even practiced by some members of the city’s police department.

During an August 2012 traffic stop, police officer Cyrus Mann shot 28-year-old Hassan Pratt to death. This cost taxpayers a $465,000 settlement to Pratt’s family and Mann his job in 2015. However, Mann was reinstated in 2016 with back pay after an arbitration decision.

During a June 2014 traffic stop, Mann and his partner Joseph Reiber shot 59-year-old Gregory Porterfield eight times. In September 2018, Philadelphia settled with Porterfield for $600,000.

Officer Ryan Pownall was a 12-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department. During his years on the force, he shot a suspect in the back, paralyzing him from the waist down.

Pownall struck again in June 2017. He was driving three people to the department’s Special Victims Unit when he allegedly spotted David Jones riding a dirt bike on a city street. Dirt bike operation on city streets merely constitutes a traffic violation.

Pownall deviated from his assigned mission to give chase to this desperado. Jones stopped, and Pownall frisked him, claiming that Jones turning sideways away from him was suspicious behavior. He also claimed to have felt a firearm during the frisk, which instigated a scuffle from which Jones ran away. Pownall responded, as he had in the past, by shooting Jones in the back, causing his death.

Pownall was fired in September 2017 and arrested for first-degree murder in September 2018. By October, the charge was reduced to third-degree murder, and he was released after posting the required 10 percent of the $500,000 bail.

Common Pleas Judge Robert P. Coleman has been tasked to rule on whether Pownall will be tried on the first-degree murder charge or a lesser one.

In October 2018, Philadelphia agreed to pay $1,000,000 to the surviving family of David Jones.

With his killing by Pownall having been captured on video, it was probably the most prudent move the city could make, especially with Pownall being criminally charged. He is awaiting trial while on house arrest. 


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