Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said Monday that his office is reviewing bodycam footage from the two officers who fatally shot a Kensington man early Christmas morning, but said he has asked Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw not to release the video because the investigation is not yet complete.
In a statement, Krasner said his office and the Police Department were awaiting forensic evidence that could help resolve conflicting reports on the episode, which witnesses and relatives said began as a Christmas Eve dispute over a parking spot but devolved into a chaotic street fight.
Police on Monday identified the officers who responded to the scene as Timothy Strano, 39, a six-year veteran, and Leggie Thompson, 45, who has spent nine months on the job. When Strano and Thompson arrived at the 3300 block of Emerald Street about 12:30 a.m., police said, they found a large crowd gathered on the sidewalk and street, with people yelling and throwing punches.
As the fight escalated, police said, 43-year-old Jesus Perez pulled a gun from his waistband and fired shots into the crowd. Strano and Thompson then fired back at Perez, police said, striking him in the body. He was taken to Temple University Hospital and declared dead.
Police have said that they believe Perez’s shots — allegedly fired from a handgun reported stolen in Virginia — killed his 15-year-old son, Jeremy, and wounded his 17-year-old nephew, identified by relatives as Giovanny Capulin.
Sgt. Eric Gripp, a police spokesperson, said Monday that the initial account offered by police was based on the officers’ bodycam video from the scene, and that ballistics tests were pending to determine which bullets had struck which victim. According to Gripp, that footage lasted more than 10 minutes and showed Perez holding and firing a gun at least once. Gripp declined to offer more details on what the video showed.
Some of Perez’s relatives had challenged the initial police account, saying in interviews over the weekend that Perez did not have a gun and would not have harmed his son or nephew. On Monday, Perez’s sister, Diana Cuevas, said relatives had since seen the bodycam video and wanted to take back what they had previously said about the events that day.
“We want to thank the police for doing the best that they could in a tragic situation,” Cuevas, 27, said in an interview. She declined to say how relatives had obtained access to the footage or what it showed, saying simply: “I don’t want to share any more details. The police did what they could do and that’s it.”
Capulin, the 17-year-old who was wounded, has since been discharged from the hospital, according to his mother, who asked that her name not be used to protect her privacy.
“He doing a little bit better,” she said Monday. “Thank God I have him home now.”
Perez’s relatives started an online fund-raiser that they said would help with funeral and burial expenses, saying on the webpage: “This is a horrible situation that no family is [ever] ready for.”
The episode marked at least the 13th time Philadelphia police have shot someone this year, the highest annual total since 2017, according to police statistics.
Earlier this month, officers shot 50-year-old Jose Cerda in Feltonville, saying that Cerda had threatened police while holding a knife. Cerda has since been charged with crimes including assault of a law enforcement officer.
In November, officers fatally shot a man in Kensington after police said he fired a gun at them while trying to run away.
And in October, two officers fatally shot Walter Wallace Jr., 27, who was suffering from mental illness when he approached them with a knife outside his home in West Philadelphia. That case prompted protests across the city that lasted for several days.
Authorities have not announced charges against any officers in those cases.
Several police officers have also been shot at this year. Cpl. James O’Connor IV was killed in March while seeking to arrest a murder suspect in Frankford; Lt. Robert Friel was shot in the leg that same month during a struggle with a man reported as suicidal inside a South Philadelphia CVS; and last week, a 19-year-old man was charged with attempted murder for allegedly firing a gun next to an officer’s head during a struggle in Kingsessing.