PHILADELPHIA, PA- In Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office is making a move to retroactively change a law in order to aid in the prosecution of a police officer who abided by the state’s legal definition of use-of-force.
Larry Krasner’s office feels like the wording of the current use-of-force law has too much leeway for officers.
Yet, in his quest to change the law, he’s asking a judge to apply it retroactively as the office is in the middle of prosecuting former Philadelphia Police Officer Ryan Pownall for murder in a case tied to use-of-force.
In a recent motion that was filed by Assistant District Attorney Tracy Tripp, he claims that Pennsylvania’s standing police use-of-force law violates accused criminals’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, and that it also violates the State Constitution, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The way the law is currently written, it allows officers to shoot fleeing felons who pose a danger to the community.
The DA’s office is addressing the portion of the law that says police officers can shoot suspects who “committed or attempted a forcible felony or is attempting to escape and possesses a deadly weapon, or otherwise indicates that he will endanger human life or inflict serious bodily injury unless arrested without delay.”
Tripp thinks the law is written in a way that cops can shoot someone “even if he does not believe such force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury.”
The motivation and tactics being employed here are sketchy to say the least, as the DA’s office isn’t asking the judge to rule on the constitutionality of the use-of-force law, but instead just instruct the jury to “interpret the statute in a constitutional manner” when deliberating the third-degree murder charge Ryan Pownall.
Attorney Fortunato Perri, who is representing Pownall, called the move for what it is this past Wednesday:
“This may be the first time in Pennsylvania’s history that an elected district attorney intentionally ignored the law in bringing charges against a peace officer, and then sought judicial intervention in changing the law before a trial on those unlawfully brought charges.”
Perri takes no issue in saying the DA is trying to change the law “on the eve” of Pownall’s trial, so as to help secure a conviction in flimsy case.
The move by Tripp and the office is also getting scrutiny from established names in the legal community too.
Jules Epstein, a law professor at Temple University said that “fundamental due process issues” would be created if the judge decided to change law and then use its modern interpretation in actions that happened prior to the new writing, specifically toward Pownall’s case.
Bruce Ledewitz, who is also a law professor at Duquesne University, mentioned that supposed civil rights violations are a matter for the civil courts. He also noted that states aren’t required to make criminal penalties for assumed constitutional violations.
Overall, this move by the DA isn’t too surprising.
Initially, the office had asked a grand jury to charge Pownall with criminal homicide for the altercation and subsequent death David Jones.
If the DA had it their way, that could have crafted charges to the tune of first-degree murder against the former officer; but the judge intervened and lowered the charge to third-degree murder.
The whole case against Pownall stems from an incident on June 8th, 2017, where Pownall saw Jones illegally riding a dirt bike weaving in and out of traffic.
When the Pownall pulled Jones over, he felt a gun on Jones’ waistband. At that point, Jones decided to fight the officer and refuse lawful orders to comply with an arrest.
After things taking a violent turn, Pownall pulled his weapon and fired, but the gun jammed and Jones began to flee on foot.
Pownall then fired two shots into Jones while he was running away, which when sent to the hospital for treatment, Jones was pronounced dead.
At the time, Pownall thought that Jones still possessed the illegal firearm when he shot the suspect, but it was later determined that Jones ditched the gun when running from the officer.
That revelation led to him being fired by the department in September of 2017 due to some “serious policy violations” during the interactions with Jones.
Police Commissioner Ross even knew that Pownall believed Jones was still armed, but based upon the exposed elements after the altercation, Ross stated that Jones “posed no imminent threat to Pownall.”
Pownall’s family, Perri, and the Fraternal Order of Police blasted Krasner’s office when they unveiled that they planned to prosecute the former officer for murder charges. John McNesby, the FOP Lodge 5 President, stated:
“Today’s meritless indictment clearly illustrates a DA who had an anti-law enforcement agenda.”
Perri also chimed in when charges were filed against Pownall, saying:
“Officer Pownall was justified in his actions that night. The evidence will clearly show that based on the facts and circumstance that will be presented at a trial, that he was legally completely justified in his actions and he will be exonerated of all charges.”
As of this time, Pownall’s murder trial is slated to begin in January of 2020. Whether the DA will be successful in an ex post facto infringement is still up in the air.
Sounds like Oklahoma, where an officer took out an active shooter then was indicted for murder last week.
The insanity of giving criminals more rights than our protectors has fully gone full-blown. For the first time ever within the United States, a police lieutenant is being indicted for a murder charge for taking down an active shooter.
I assure you; you didn’t misread that: a cop is actually being charged for shooting and killing an armed suspect who had opened fire on police and citizens.
A police lieutenant that is based out of Blackwell, Oklahoma has just been indicted earlier this week for second-degree murder in the May 20 killing of a woman during a vehicle pursuit, in which shots were fired at the officers involved in the pursuit.
"This would be the first time in American history that a police officer or anybody was charged with the crime of murder for shooting at an active shooter," said Jason Smith, president of the Oklahoma Fraternal Order of Police.https://t.co/7Ja7lQhHjR
— KOKH FOX 25 (@OKCFOX) November 26, 2019
Supporters of Blackwell Police Lieutenant John Mitchell say the suspect was an active shooter, which reports associated with the incident substantiate. Of course, various other media outlets have described the deceased woman as a “road rage suspect.”
But if they want to argue, I suppose it does require quite a bit of rage to open fire at police.
Oklahoma City grand jurors concluded Lieutenant Mitchell acted without justifiable or excusable cause in the events that led up to the death of Micheal Ann Godsey and engaged in “imminently dangerous conduct” toward her as well.
If the lieutenant is convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years in prison. Apparently, we’ve gotten to a point where police are no longer allowed to protect their lives and the lives of others.
Defense attorney for the lieutenant, Gary James, said that Mitchell acted lawfully to stop what any reasonable person would describe as an active threat.
James went on to say, “She shot at the police twice. She has shot at her mother twice. She has shot at a private citizen. We know she fired other rounds around town. And Mitchell gets in behind her. He took his AR-15 and he started shooting through the front windshield at her.”
I’m sure the outrage culture would have preferred if he only used his pepper spray in defense of his life. Godsey was found dead in the driver’s seat of the pickup she was driving during the incident, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said in May.
Police say dispatch had received a call about an active shooter on May 20of this year who was going around town shooting. Then the active shooter allegedly began firing at the officers as well. A lot of gunfire was exchanged, and the woman was killed following a pursuit.
Upwards of 60 shots were reported, which is why some say he was indicted, but supporters disagree.
“This would be the first time in American history that a police officer, or anybody, was charged with the crime of murder for shooting at an active shooter”-OK FOP President Jason Smith on the murder indictment of Blackwell Officer John Mitchell @KTULNews pic.twitter.com/l3aMcaGhhs
— Burt Mummolo (@MummoloNews) November 25, 2019
Sean Ingram, one of the many Mitchell supporters that have come out to speak logic to the surrounding nonsense, had this to offer regarding those who think shooting too many times at a suspect is somehow immoral when they’re a threat to others:
“To me, you return fire until the threat is neutralized, and you don’t know if it’s going to be one or one hundred. He is the most honorable person I know, and I will back him all the way.”
According to his attorney on the case, Mitchell had just completed training on how to deal with an active shooter and was cleared by an independent internal affairs review of the incident.
So why was this even presented to a grand jury of internal affairs cleared the shooting as without incident?
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A bevy of Blackwell residents were astounded by the indictment. After the news broke locally, residents showed their support for the officer who is being wrongfully prosecuted for doing his job and protecting his community.
One support even sported a shirt donning a thin blue line flag and the words “Justice for John” emblazoned underneath the flag.
For the law enforcement community, the indictment has sent a chilling shockwave of concern, summed up by the state president of the fraternal order of police, Jason Smith.
“This would be the first time in American history that a police officer or anybody was charged with the crime of murder for shooting at an active shooter.”
“After learning of this indictment 6,000 FOP members around the state got up and were worried…that they would be unfairly judged.” -OK FOP President Jason Smith on the murder indictment of Blackwell officer John Mitchell @KTULNews pic.twitter.com/GOqy8REcmc
— Burt Mummolo (@MummoloNews) November 25, 2019
In today’s world, criminals are allowed to shoot at people, and those who we trust to protect us, are slowly losing the ability to shoot back.
It seems like as we “progress” as a nation, we’re putting criminals way ahead of our protectors.
And to that matter, criminals are seemingly even more of a priority than their victims.
A new series of criminal justice reforms due to take effect in January will fundamentally change how business is conducted in courts in New York.
One movement, to abolish cash bail, is one of the hallmarks of the law. Eliminating cash bail is supported by far-left New York governor Andrew Cuomo. The law would allow judges only three options for dealing with criminal defendants- release on own recognizance, supervised release or in more serious cases, incarceration pending trial.
This comes with its own set of problems. One can imagine that if a gang-banger drug dealer is arrested and charged with distribution of narcotics that would likely be considered a “minor” felony, subjecting said gang-banger to being released on own recognizance or supervised release. In liberal land New York, incarceration pending trial for a “low level” drug offense is not likely.
So, now we have a drug dealer who has been released onto the streets. He will now be able to locate and intimidate witnesses who might testify against him. If they’re lucky, it will only be intimidation and not something worse. Of course, based on another part of the law, they will know exactly who those witnesses are.
And while New York was spinning its wheels once again throwing down with criminals, a loophole in an existing state law was discovered.
The top prosecutor in Manhattan stated that because of a legal loophole in state law, someone who becomes voluntarily intoxicated is not considered to be “mentally incapacitated” for the purposes of giving consent, according to the Independent.
In a 2018 letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo written by District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., he wrote:
“But there is no difference between an intoxicated individual’s ability to consent to sexual acts when he or she was drugged, and an intoxicated individual’s ability to consent when he or she voluntarily drank alcohol or took narcotics.”
The letter was reviewed by the Washington Post.
Mr. Vance was pushing Cuomo for legislation to eradicate the requirement under state law that a victim’s intoxication was involuntary. He reasoned that a reasonable person should know whether or not a person was drunk, and therefore should not be shielded from prosecution.
Surprisingly, according to the Independent, most states only imply a lack of consent where the intoxication was involuntary, according to an article published in the Brooklyn Law Review in 2016.
As a basis for his argument, Mr. Vance cited a 2011 case involving two NYPD police officers who were arrested and subsequently acquitted of rape charges involving an intoxicated woman. Officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Matta allegedly raped the woman after helping her while on patrol.
Prosecutors could not prove that the woman had not agreed to consensual sex with the officers because of existing law. Mr. Vance argued that the officers should have known that the woman was incapable of informed consent.
“If someone is drinking voluntarily and become excessively drunk, that’s not a green light for someone to sexually assault you,” Vance wrote. “No one should be able to assault you simply because you put yourself in a case where dangerous things might happen,” he said. As of September, Cuomo’s office had not responded to Vance’s letter.
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