Public forum Thursday on Philippe Holland case and other police shootings

Posted on 09 July 2014 by Mike Lyons


Philippe Holland

The Department of Justice and the Police Advisory Commission will hold a public forum tomorrow (Thursday, July 10) at City Hall to talk about officer-involved shootings. The forum comes three months after two undercover police fired 14 shots at pizza delivery driver Philippe Holland, striking him in the head, neck and leg.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey asked the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) office to look at the PPD’s training, policies and tactics related to officer-involved shootings. The COPS program is also examining the department’s transparency and investigative policies.

“Our goal is to use the review process as a framework for detailed public discussions around the use of deadly force by Philadelphia Police officers,” said Police Advisory Commission (PAC) Kelvyn Anderson.

We reported on the program in more detail following a public meeting with police last month related to the shooting of Holland.

Holland had finished his last delivery of the night on April 22 and was walking back to his car when the officers approached him during the investigation of a recent shooting in the area. Holland, who may have believed he was being robbed, ran to his car and drove toward the officers. They opened fire. Holland was in critical condition for several days.

Tomorrow’s meeting will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the City Council chambers on the 4th floor of City Hall. The PAC will also accept public comment on police-involved shootings from the last 18 months.


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Bar fight ends in shooting near 45th and Baltimore (updated)

Posted on 06 July 2014 by

An altercation between two men at a local bar spilled out onto the sidewalk and ended in a shooting on Saturday night, according to police.

The fight started at Queen of Sheba and ended outside on 45th Street near Baltimore with one man shooting the other. The shooting was reported around 11:20 p.m., according to police. After the shooting both men fled the scene on foot through the driveway of the 500 block of South Melville Street, with one man chasing the other.

UPDATE: Police say the gunman fired 11 shots. The driveway and surrounding area was searched for a potential gunshot victim, but no one was found. Police say they also checked all area hospitals with no result. No other injuries were reported.

Police have identified the shooter and are currently searching for him (they won’t release his name). The victim is described as a black male who was speaking with an African accent. He was wearing a plaid shirt, tan pants, and had no shoes on.


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Student shoots alleged burglar near Drexel campus (updated)

Posted on 04 June 2014 by Mike Lyons

Update: Police have confirmed that the man shot was 22-year-old Baron Alexander, son of convicted late-term abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, whose notorious clinic was a few blocks from the break-in. Alexander changed his name from Gosnell in 2012, The Daily News reported. Alexander lived a couple of houses down from the row home where the break-in occurred, according to police.

A college student shot and critically injured an alleged burglar early this morning at a home on the 3700 block of Brandywine in Mantua, according to reports. is reporting that the shooting happened at just before 7 a.m. in a residence shared by several college students a few blocks from the Drexel campus. The 22-year-old man was shot three times and is in stable condition.


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Accused Copabanana shooter held for trial

Posted on 21 May 2014 by Mike Lyons

The 26-year-old Kingsessing man accused of shooting and killing another West Philadelphia resident outside of the Copabanana bar and restaurant near 40th and Spruce last month will be held for trial following a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.


Shooting victim Timothy Cary

Corey Gaynor faces a count of first-degree murder in the shooting death of 31-year-old Timothy Cary of the 5100 block of Locust Street at about 1:30 a.m. on April 14.

Police say Gaynor, who is from near 52nd and Whitby, fired as many as 10 shots from point-blank range at Cary after an argument inside the Copabanana reportedly spilled outside onto the sidewalk.

Penn police apprehended Gaynor near 40th and Pine a few minutes after the shooting. Police found a handgun nearby. Several witnesses at the scene identified Gaynor as the shooter, according to police.

Gaynor is scheduled to be arraigned on June 10 at 11 a.m. in Courtroom 1104 of the Criminal Justice Center.


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Tragic shooting of pizza delivery driver could help jumpstart police transparency

Posted on 16 May 2014 by Mike Lyons

Residents, community activists and even beat cops are hoping the recent tragic shooting of an unarmed pizza delivery driver in the Cedar Park neighborhood will fast-track the Philadelphia Police Department’s (PPD) efforts to become more transparent.

The shooting of Philippe Holland on April 22 near 51st and Willows by two plain-clothes police officers came during a Department of Justice review of “officer-involved shootings” in the city that will likely lead to recommendations for a public review of “officer involved shootings.”


Philippe Holland

Residents attending the monthly meeting with neighborhood police last night in the Calvary Center at 48th and Baltimore had questions about the shooting, in which Holland was critically injured after police shot 14 times at the car he was driving. Holland was shot in the head, neck and leg. Patty Bullack with the 48th Street Neighbors group read aloud a letter signed by about 130 community members asking the police to make public the findings of an ongoing investigation of the shooting.

Lt. Brian McBride, commanding officer of the PPD’s University City substation, said he was unable to disclose any details of the investigation, but hopes its findings will eventually become public.

“I can’t say anything about the case, but I can say that they’re looking at a lot of things about what happened that night,” McBride said.

Unlike departments in other big cities, Philadelphia’s famously secretive police department has never been compelled to publicly discuss officer-involved shootings in the past.

But McBride said that the department has made significant strides toward transparency under the leadership of Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who became the top cop in 2008. One of Ramsey’s initiatives has been the posting of some details of officer-involved shootings online, which began last year. The posts do not include any details about the outcomes of formal investigations of the shootings.

Philadelphia’s police department doesn’t reveal those details. Yet.

“We have nothing to hide but it seems like we do because we’re stuck in an archaic way of doing things in Philadelphia,” said McBride, who added that he expects Ramsey to make the investigation into the shooting of Philippe Holland public. McBride said that many cops want details made public because “99 percent, probably more, of [police-involved shootings] are justified.”

But there are serious doubts, at least among members of the public, that the shooting of Holland was justified. Holland had finished his last delivery of the night and was walking back to his car when the officers approached him during the investigation of a recent shooting in the area. Holland, who may have believed he was being robbed, ran to his car and drove toward the officers. They opened fire. Holland, who was in critical condition for several days, is currently recovering at a hospital in Newark, New Jersey.

Kelvyn Anderson, a Cedar Park resident and executive director of the city’s Police Advisory Commission, said at last night’s meeting that the commission is pushing for a “public reckoning” of officer-involved shootings, which would include a public discussion of investigations.

“We think that is what is needed here,” he said. “We hope this will lead to some significant changes in the way we deal with things like this in the city.”

The Justice Department released findings of a similar investigation in Las Vegas in 2012 that recommended the release of several key documents any time the police investigated an officer-involved shooting. The same Justice Department official who led that investigation is currently reviewing procedures in Philadelphia.

There will likely be further discussion about the shooting at the Police Advisory Commission monthly meeting on Monday, May 19th at the Sweet Union Baptist Church, 1536 N. 59th Street (near 59th and Lansdowne) beginning at 6:30 p.m.

-Mike Lyons


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Residents demand answers in shooting of pizza delivery driver

Posted on 12 May 2014 by Mike Lyons


Philippe Holland.

A group of West Philly residents are demanding answers about the shooting of an unarmed pizza delivery driver, Philippe Holland, who was critically wounded by two undercover officers near 51st and Willows in April.

The residents, many of whom live near where the shooting happened, are calling for the public release of results from the investigation into the shooting, according to a letter signed by dozens of residents and sent to local media on Monday.

The officers fired 14 times at Holland, striking him in the head, neck and leg. Holland, who is from Upper Darby, is recovering at a hospital in Newark, New Jersey. Many of the same neighbors started the “Fund for Phil” soon after the shooting to help raise money for Holland and his family.

Local residents who are interested in signing the letter should contact Patty Bulack of the 48th Street Neighbors group at: pbulack — at — gmail(dot)com.

Here is the letter in full:

We are residents of the West Philadelphia neighborhood where the 18th are concerned with the safety of our neighborhood and are grateful for the efforts of the Philadelphia Police Department and its officers to keep us and our neighborhood safe. We work hard at creating positive relationships with local public representatives, and with law enforcement, and hope that the outcome of this conversation will lead to an improved relationship, rather than broken trust.

We are writing in response to the shooting of Philippe Holland on April 22, 2014 at 51st and Willows by two undercover police officers. What we believe about the case is as follows:

• Philippe is a pizza delivery man, a job that is dangerous in a neighborhood such as ours where muggings are frequent.
• Police were responding to a shooting in the neighborhood, and suspected that Philippe was the shooter.
• Philippe fled in his car and was driving his car in the direction of the officers.
• In response, officers fired fourteen shots, despite police procedure that directs officers to not shoot at a moving vehicle.
• Three shots hit Philippe, placing him in critical condition.
• The officers who fired the shots were not in uniform, making it unclear who they were to anyone on the scene. We are concerned about that and wish that to be addressed. We believe that police should be clearly identified so as to help bring a situation under control, when they do so in a professional manner. Plainclothes officers have less at their disposal to identify themselves, which is important to do especially in situations where civilians may be distracted or panicked.
• We also question why relatively new officers were assigned to undercover duty in this case.

Given the subtleties that are introduced into their role by being undercover, it seems more prudent that veteran officers be prioritized for assignment to this kind of duty.

We are deeply troubled and disappointed by the actions of the two police officers involved. Many of us could find ourselves in a similar situation, and we are troubled that someone going about their job could be so severely injured by our local law enforcement. We are appreciative of the willingness of our local police to put themselves in danger for the sake of our collective safety. However, the response of the officers in this particular situation made us feel unsafe and we want to make sure this never happens again. Moreover, while the safety of our neighborhood’s residents is important to us, so is the safety of anyone who visits our neighborhood. We value living in a place where diversity thrives and desire it to be open to anyone regardless of race, gender or class. This incident undermined both our safety and our values.

In light of that, we request the following from the 18th Police District:

1. Information about the incident, the investigation and the final outcome: We cannot build trust with our local police force if we have no insight into the procedures that lead to a particular choice made by an officer, all of the details of an event and the reasons for the consequent disciplinary action or lack thereof. Similarly, we cannot trust that the investigation is being carried out justly, without knowing all of the details. Because of this, we request that upon completion of the investigation, the outcome of the investigation and all information relevant to the case be released and made available for community review.

2. Proper discipline for the police officers involved: We are aware that an investigation of this incident is currently underway and we appreciate that the Philadelphia Police Department is this incident seriously. We would like to reiterate the importance of properly disciplining the police officers involved.

Lastly, we want to note that we are aware of the ongoing review of the Philadelphia Police Department by the Department of Justice and of upcoming release of the findings. We plan to attend the public meeting and share our requests with the Department of Justice as well.

We appreciate your time in reading this letter and look forward to your response.

Patty Bulack
Jamie Gauthier
Mariya Khandros
Algernong Allen
Barbara Tilley
Susan Heyner
Aravind Joshi
Sue Gerber
David Krueger
Amara Rockar
James Beck
Adam Weaver
James Beadle
Marcy Morgan
Chad Ostrowski
Tom O’Malley
Carolyn McCoy
Bruce Dorpalen
Jason Sandman
Liz Spikol
Nati Passow
Brian Spooner
Irene Plantholt
Steve Plantholt
Molly McGlone
Tina Horowitz
Fran Berge
Michael Froehlich
Bob Behr
Nancy Juergens
Jessi Roemer
Josh Block
Maryte Papadopoulos
Yanni Papadopoulos
Regine Joseph
Stacey Holiday
Lee Garner
Tim Emmett-Rardin
Jo-Ann Fishburn
Kimya Jackson
Margaret Ferrigno
Pamela Kane
Amy Kietzman
Karena Thurston Valentine

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