Ross: Officer in David Jones' shooting suspended with intent to dismiss

- Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross has announced an officer involved in the shooting death of 30-year-old David Jones will be suspended with intent to dismiss.

FOX 29’s Dave Schratwieser reported Thursday morning Officer Ryan Pownall would face Internal Affairs on Thursday, Nearly Three months after he was involved in the fatal shooting back on June 8.

The incident occurred as Officer Pownall was working along the 4100 block of Whitaker Avenue while transporting witnesses to the Special Victims Unit.

Police say the officer observed a red dirt bike being operated by Jones driving in a reckless manner. According to investigators, the officer saw the dirt bike stall on the sidewalk adjacent to a nightclub. At that time, the officer stopped his patrol vehicle near David Jones, exited his vehicle and attempted to question him.

Authorities say Jones turned the right side of his body away from Officer Pownall and began holding the front of his waistband. Police say the officer used his left hand to pat-down the male and felt a firearm in his waistband. According to police, Pownall drew his firearm and repeatedly told the male not to touch the weapon. Police say there was a struggle between the two and Jones pulled a firearm from his waistband. 

Officer Pownall, a 12-year-veteran assigned to the 15th district squeezed the trigger of his service weapon, and it did not fire. According to police, the officer cleared a stoppage and discharged at the male as he ran south on Whitaker Avenue. David Jones sustained gunshot wounds to the back and buttocks. He was transported to Temple University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

“The first attempt to fire by Officer Pownall was reasonable and within policy, because he was struggling with a male he knew was armed, a male who tried to pull a gun out,” Ross explained, “The second and third shots that Pownall fired were from distances of 10 and 35 feet, respectively. In both instances, Jones was running away from Pownall with nothing in either hand.”

Ross added that Officer Pownall violated departmental policy when he made the vehicle stop with a victim and witness in the back of the patrol car. Ross says he also failed to notify police radio of the traffic stop and did not call for backup.

“In order to fire at a fleeing suspect, there must be an imminent threat of death of serious physical injury to the officer or another person. Because Jones never looked back and Pownall, in the video, and his hands were empty, he posed no imminent or immediate threat to Pownall,” Ross added.

There were no other injuries to police or civilians.

A fully loaded 9-millimeter handgun was found at the scene according to Commissioner Ross.

“Sadly, two parallel lanes of poor judgment crossed on that evening,” Ross said Thursday, “Officer Pownall used poor judgment when he chose to make a vehicle stop for a motor vehicle violation with civilians in his car.  He also used poor judgment by not availing himself of cover and concealment after Jones broke away from him during their struggle. Instead, he elected to take aim and fire two shots at Jones while he was running away.”

Ross also condemned Jones’ judgment in the incident in Thursday’s press conference.

“Jones also used poor judgment as well when carried a gun illegally, rode a motorcycle that is illegal to operate on a city street, and refused to comply with Pownall’s orders.”

Per departmental policy, Officer Pownall had been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation into the incident.

The commissioner's actions drew short lived praise from Jones' mother, Black Lives Matter and Justice for David Jones. 

Commissioner Ross told reporters he's aware of the firestorm surrounding the shooting and police discord over protesters rallying outside Pownall's home two weeks ago. He says his decision was based on the facts and not an easy one.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s investigation into the incident is ongoing.

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