A fired Philadelphia police officer surrendered to authorities in what the district attorney said was only the second time in almost two decades that an on-duty Philadelphia cop was charged for killing a suspect.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner charged Ryan Pownall, who’s white, on Tuesday with first-degree murder for killing David Jones, an African-American, in June 2017, WPVI-TV reported.
If convicted, the ex-cop faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole for fatally shooting the 32-year-old man in the back.
“Video recovered from the scene shows Jones was unarmed, and he never turned toward Pownall or gestured in a threatening manner during his flight,” Krasner said at a Tuesday news conference, adding that the former officer fired his weapon three times and struck Jones twice.
Pownall pulled over Jones, who was on a dirt bike, for an alleged traffic violation, authorities said. The officer’s gun jammed when he attempted to shoot Jones after a confrontation. Surveillance video showed Jones dropping his gun to the ground and running away. That’s when Pownall opened fire.
Investigators recovered Jones’ gun about 25 feet away from where he was gunned down.
The shooting ignited widespread protests that included a Black Lives Matter demonstration outside of Pownall’s home. These vigorous protests prompted the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police President, John McNesby, to call BLM protesters a “pack of rabid animals” and a “racist hate group determined to instigate violence.”
BLM activists showed up to the news conference Tuesday and welcomed the indictment.
Since January, Krasner’s office has investigated 19 officer-involved shootings, seven involving injury or fatality with three of those civilians killed by on-duty officers, according to WPVI-TV.