NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA (AP/WTXF) - There were cries for justice, balloons and hugs at the corner of Hegerman Street and Princeton Avenue in Tacony Wednesday night as hundreds came to remember 36-year-old Jeffrey Dennis. The father of three who was shot to death by an undercover Philadelphia narcotics officer Monday night after police say he rammed his car into another officer.
Family and friends gathered at the spot where Dennis, an employee at Tastykake, was shot while inside his car. Officers spotted Dennis driving near his home where they were serving a search warrant for drugs. Police say he ignored their commands to stop and struck and injured the officer. Another officer fired at least three shots—killing Dennis.
"He represented what a real man is. He was respectful, he was courteous, he was loving," his brother-in-law Robert Nunez said.
"These were plainclothes officers, unmarked vehicles. We have witness statements who said the first thing they heard was gunshots," Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Dennis family, said.
Mourners lit candles and demanded justice for Dennis. The shooting is under investigation, but Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross has raised questions the entire incident.
"We have some concerns about the shooting too and some of the tactics that were used," Ross said.
"The Philadelphia Police Department policy says if you have a car that's moving you get out of the way you don't fire into that car," Merritt explained.
Dennis' family says he coached his son's youth football team and loved his children ages 6, 11 and 17. Dennis does have a record of prior arrests. A search warrant at his home later turned up drugs, a gun and over $6,000 in cash.
On Wednesday morning, the DA's office turned this investigation over to the state attorney general because of a potential conflict of interest. As FOX 29 first reported Monday night, DA Larry Krasner once represented Dennis when he was a defense attorney.
The family and their attorney are expected to meet with Commissioner Ross Thursday morning.