A second mistrial was declared Thursday for a man accused of shooting and wounding a Philadelphia police officer during a struggle in a Feltonville bodega in 2013 — this time because jurors were talking about the case.
Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Ehrlich granted the mistrial after a defense motion in the trial of Eric Torres, 38, in the shooting of Officer Edward Davies in the Almonte Mini Market at Fourth and Annsbury Streets on Aug. 13, 2013.
In a room behind the courtroom, jurors discussed aspects of the case and talked about witnesses. One juror heard from another that this week’s trial was a retrial. After a court officer was informed, the judge questioned each juror individually while the courtroom was cleared of observers.
Jurors are not allowed to speak with one another about a case until it is time to deliberate.
The trial, which started with opening statements Wednesday, was Torres’ third in the shooting.
In March 2015, a jury convicted him of aggravated assault, assault of a law enforcement officer, and weapons and drug offenses. That July, Ehrlich sentenced Torres to 66 to 132 years in state prison.
But Pennsylvania Superior Court in 2017 ordered a retrial after finding that police had no probable cause to search Torres’ home after the shooting. Inside, they found heroin and a silver gun.
Torres’ second trial, in September, was derailed after a prosecutor showed a witness the wrong gun — the silver gun found in the home, instead of a black .45-caliber Glock that authorities said Torres had used in the shooting. Ehrlich said then that he was declaring a mistrial out of an abundance of caution so that Torres could get a fair trial, and scheduled Torres’ third trial for this week.
Authorities have alleged that Torres, then 31, shot Davies, 41, shortly after noon Aug. 13, 2013, during a struggle with Davies and three other officers in the mini market.
Assistant District Attorney Shuaiyb Newton said in his opening statement Wednesday that Torres had pulled out the gun from a holster in his waistband and fired it once, shooting Davies in the abdomen.
Public defender Jonathan Strange argued in his opening statement Wednesday that Torres didn’t have a gun in the market and that it was not Torres who shot Davies. He contended that one of Davies’ fellow officers accidentally shot him during the struggle.