Philly Cops Face Criminal Charges For Performing An Illegal Pedestrian Stop


Weird stuff is happening in Philadelphia. Things have changed drastically since Larry Krasner became District Attorney. Anyone who enters this office and immediately earns the undying hatred of the local police union is probably someone actually serious about accountability.

Right after taking office, DA Krasner secured 33 resignations from prosecutors and staff who weren’t willing to get on board with his reform efforts. He went after the bail system, pointing out it did little else but ensure the poorest Philadelphians spent the most time in jail while still presumably innocent. Then he pissed off the police union by daring to tell incoming police cadets force deployment — especially deadly force — is a power to be used only when necessary and handled with the utmost of respect.

Accountability INTENSIFIES. A bogus pedestrian stop performed by two cops has led to [rubs eyes in disbelief] the arrest of the two cops who performed the stop. (h/t Max Marin)

The statement [PDF] issued by the DA’s office says two Philly PD officers, Matthew Walsh and Marvin Jones, stopped a citizen for “apparently using narcotics.” This citizen filed a complaint, resulting in an Internal Affairs investigation.

The narrative delivered by the two cops on their report was undone completely by video obtained by Internal Affairs.

Based on video surveillance recovered during the course of the IAD investigation, Police Officer Walsh and Police Officer Jones could not have seen the citizen “apparently using narcotics.” In addition, the citizen was fully compliant at the time of the stop. Moreover, the search of the citizen (which resulted in the removal of a prescription pharmaceutical from the citizen’s pants pocket) was not noted on the “Vehicle/Pedestrian Investigation Report” prepared and submitted by the officers.

Normally this sort of behavior would result in a halfhearted investigation and officers being cleared of any wrongdoing. In extreme cases, someone might be suspended with pay. Lies and illegal stops rarely result in anything more than stern words and civil rights lawsuits. They almost never result in the arrest of the officers involved.

But not here. Officers Walsh and Jones have both been arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy, false imprisonment, tampering with records, obstructing administration of law, and official oppression. Rather than force the citizen to fight this abuse in court, the DA’s office has taken steps that will result in far more deterrence of future unconstitutional policing by making it clear abusive actions will be punished severely.

Unbelievably, there’s more. Another near-impossibility was achieved only a few weeks earlier.

Today, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is charging former 15th District Philadelphia Police Officer Ryan Pownall with Criminal Homicide (18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2501), Possession of an Instrument of Crime (18 Pa.C.S.A. § 907), and Recklessly Endangering Another Person (18 Pa.C.S.A § 2705). Pownall voluntarily turned himself in today.

The Investigating Grand Jury (IGJ), whose members completed a review of the evidence and events leading up to the shooting death of David Jones, recommended that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) issue charges against Pownall.

Officer Pownall shot David Jones in the back three times while he was running away from the officer. Jones was carrying a gun, which Pownall found during his search of Jones, but following a brief altercation, Jones tossed his weapon away and ran from Officer Pownall. Perhaps Pownall could have justified his actions (or attempted to) if he felt Jones was still carrying his gun, but his own statements to responding officers made it clear he’d seen Jones throw his weapon away before running. Video recovered from the scene showed Jones was unarmed, never turned towards Officer Pownall or acted in a threatening manner at any point during his brief flight.

As the grand jury sees it, this killing was completely unnecessary.

The IGJ (Investigative Grand Jury) found that by firing his gun in the direction of traffic, Pownall recklessly endangered other people in his vicinity, that at the time of his flight, Jones was not a danger to anyone and that Jones’s death was not necessary to secure his apprehension.

True, it doesn’t take much to secure a conviction from a grand jury. But when the target is a cop, prosecutors — despite playing on a completely-skewed playing field — rarely seem to be able to talk grand jurors into returning charges. Officer Pownall is innocent until proven guilty, but he’ll get to see firsthand what that presumption actually means once a trial’s underway.

This has been a big month for police accountability. Hopefully, this trend continues… and expands much further than one DA’s office in Pennsylvania.

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Comments on “Philly Cops Face Criminal Charges For Performing An Illegal Pedestrian Stop”

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Big Juicy Brain-Burger says:

Re: YO, "reticulator"! 3 -- THREE! -- comments since Aug 5th, 2009!

You crawled out after a FOUR YEAR GAP, and now after SEVEN AND A HALF YEARS to make SUCH an important point!

You make TEN known ZOMBIES with over SIX YEAR GAPS in commenting.

They’re ALWAYS blandly supportive of the site. NEVER mention long absence or changes. ONLY ONE CONCLUSION.

Hey, "nasch" (last I saw tried to pooh-pooh): nothing ODD about this one, either, eh?

So, thanks "reticulator" for a good HOOT on this dull Friday! — May not be the last today, I gotta hedge, cause this is TECHDIRT, wackiest site on teh internets!

Anonymous Coward says:

Good Article

This article was better than most here. The idea that people who lie must face legal consequences is heartening.

It would be even more heartening if Julie Swetnick and Avenatti faced legal consequences for their obvious lies. Sending them to prison would set quite a good tone.

Dr. Ford being outed as an obvious liar and a fake would also be good. She could appeal her conviction all to way to SCOTUS, that would be even better. Everyone appreciates karma coming full circle, and liars facing consequences.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Good Article

Well, Dr. Ford said she was claustrophobic because of her sexual assault and couldn’t fly. That proved to be false. She said her friends were at the party, but they denied it. She said she never helped anyone prepare for a polygraph, but she did. Her “friends” also called witnesses and tried to get them to change their story, encouraging them to lie to support her.

Is that enough? Probably not. You don’t care about the truth or who lied or why.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Good Article

The majority of these lies, as well as their refutations, were made under oath under penalty of perjury . Her prior boyfriend swore that she had no problem flying, and did so often. He also personally witnessed her coaching someone on a polygraph. The WSJ just wrote an article about the FBI report which documented the attempted witness tampering.

The evidence is multi-sourced and sworn under oath by multiple individuals. Dr. Ford stands alone with her lies, and still withholds evidence from the Judiciary committee, such as her therapist notes.

It’s not my work, and I’m not your honey.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Seriously, though, did you hear Susan Collins on the Senate floor when she talked about “algorithms” and their impact on American society? Did you hear Senator Grassley talk about saying “no” to “mob rule”? Laws are coming, trust me on that.

Techdirt is part of the same machinery that tried to destroy Justice Kavanaugh. It uses the same tactics, the same fake voices, the same outrage and disgusting falsities. It will all soon come to an infamous end.

I celebrate the death of the effort to destroy Justice Kavanaugh nearly as much as I celebrated the election of POTUS, Donald Trump, the magnificent. (Did you hear when he was introduced that way at the United Nations? I was right all along.)

And now I am right again, publicly, worldwide.

And you are are still the same self-proclaimed shit-stain you have always been.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“We can salvage some decency, here, at the end”. That was Crying Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor.

That would be good.

About as likely as Mr. Masnick apologizing to the Email guy for the disgusting attacks he suffered here and continues to suffer with the help of Google. But decency is unknown here.

When will you idiots understand that Americans are awake and not willing to put up with the bullshit anymore? No matter how many Techdirt unfair and disgusting comments, Twitter bullying mob attacks or biased Google searches will silence Real American Inventors like the Email guy?

Digraceful and absurd, I got those words from Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor. He used it with force speaking about the Spartacus and the year book “examination” that Senators focused on recently.

Disgraceful and absurd. The same words apply to what you did to Shiva here on this forum.

I only hope this long standing wrong will be righted soon. That would be good.

Maybe Kavanaugh will be able to help. That would be even better.

What do you think? Would Kavanaugh be sympathetic to Shiva’s case?

That One Guy (profile) says:

'You can know a man by who he counts as his enemies'

Anyone who enters this office and immediately earns the undying hatred of the local police union is probably someone actually serious about accountability.

At this point if a police union hates you that’s probably a pretty good indicator that you’re on the right side of things, and based upon this DA’s actions so far it would seem that he most certainly falls into that category.

Nice to see someone in that position actually interested in serving the public for once, hopefully he has a long and productive career ahead of him with more of the same.

Paul Brinker (profile) says:

Re: 'You can know a man by who he counts as his enemies'

For everyone who says the cops are going to do something, keep in mind this is the DA, the one person who is mostly untouchable legally (he’s not going to charge himself) and has a really big hammer.

Assassination is really off the table as well since that just creates a martyr as the only people who hate him are the cops.

Now if he really wants to muck with things he should hire new cops from mostly minority areas and wave the policies that mostly keep them out of law enforcement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: 'You can know a man by who he counts as his enemies'

“Assassination is really off the table as well”

idk, trumpy said he likes that Duarte guy in the Philippines because Duarte just goes out and murders people. Apparently this is a desirable characteristic in a world leader today … how in the hell did that happen – oh wait a sec, it’s always been that way huh.

Richard M says:

Re: Not new news...

While possible I would need to see some numbers from reliable sources.

However we are talking about two different things. There is a big difference in an off duty cop getting stopped for a DWI and a cop misusing his powers while being on duty.

Even if we assume that off duty cops are treated the same when they commit “regular” crimes there is no way they are treated the same while on duty.

Very rarely are cops held accountable any time they commit what are obvious crimes while on duty which is what this article is about. If anything at all happens they get a short paid vacation while the tax payers end up paying the victim or victims family.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not new news...

“Police officers as a demographic have the same criminal conviction rate as the population as a whole.”

Some folk compare apples to oranges and are quite happy with their ridiculous conclusions, you have made fruit salad.

What percentage of the public go out and perform the duties of law enforcement and are not arrested for doing so .. and provide proof of such activities for your “survey” detailing how the conviction rates are the same and it some how proves something, whatever that is.

Valkor says:

Re: Re: Not new news...

“Police officers as a demographic have the same criminal conviction rate as the population as a whole.”

Better question: do they have the same indictment rate? The point isn’t that juries won’t convict a police officer. The point is that the offense doesn’t even get that far.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Not new news...

You make a good, and scary point. Consider how hard it is to get a police officer to trial, much less actually convict them. Then if you accept the premise that "Police officers as a demographic have the same criminal conviction rate as the population as a whole" that can only lead to one conclusion: That the actual rate of crimes committed by police must be much higher than the crime rate of the rest of the population, if so few of them get convicted to the point that their conviction rate matches the rest of the population.

So What.... says:

Re: Re: Not new news...

Yes…and its true and awesome. No part of the population is held to a higher standard. That is just media folklore. Humans amd humans and we all act the same in the end. Any of us want to act as a part of rule abiding society and fewer want to play outside the rules. Its been the same forever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Not new news...

“No part of the population is held to a higher standard”

In practice – yes. However, I thought op was implying LEOs should be held to a higher standard – no?

Media Folklore … wtf does that mean?

We all act the same … lol. We all lick the boots of great leader simultaneously.

“rule abiding society “
– apparently this is no longer possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not new news...

Police officers as a demographic have the same criminal conviction rate as the population as a whole.

And that’s bad. The whole reason we have background checks and vetting processes is to ensure (or at least minimize the chance) that the normal percentage of the population that would commit crimes do NOT become law enforcement officers. If that isn’t happening and the same percentage of criminals are on the force as there are off the force, then there’s a systemic failure present at higher levels.

In addition, even if we accept that the people on the force are not held to a higher standard of behavior over the rest of the population, then at least we should hold them to the same standard of accountability as the rest of the population. No qualified immunity, no good faith exception, no "I feared for my life so I shot him 37 times."

So What.... says:

Re: Re: Not new news...

“then at least we should hold them to the same standard of accountability …… no “I feared for my life so I shot him 37 times.”

Now you are getting it. Way too many police shootings and other uses of violence happen simply because the police amped up the situation by using aggressive tactics or not understanding a drunk/stoned/mentally impaired person cant actually comprehend 4 officers screaming conflicting instructions… Like the Van Dyke shooting in Chicago…kid on hallucinogen is staggering down the street..officer gets out of a SUV and shoots him 16 times. How about stay in your steel vehicle and nudge the kid with it? There are so many descalation techniques for every situation. Of course when they are used…the author of this story doesn’t write an article with the headline “police shoot nobody,nothing to complain about.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Not new news...

“drunk/stoned/mentally impaired person”

Hate to break the news to you but, not all victims of police brutality are members of your elite group of villainous misfits.

“kid on hallucinogen is staggering down the street.”

Obviously the correct response it to shoot first in any situation – right? /s

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