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Fired police lieutenant found dead

Ex-cop was awaiting trial on assault charges

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER George Holcombe , 42, was fired from the force in November after he was arrested following a custody dispute with his ex-girlfriend.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER George Holcombe , 42, was fired from the force in November after he was arrested following a custody dispute with his ex-girlfriend.Read more

A FIRED Philadelphia police lieutenant with a troubled past who was awaiting trial on aggravated-assault charges was found dead in his home on Tuesday, according to numerous sources.

George Holcombe, 42, served as a cop for 23 years, from 1991 until he was fired from the force in November. The cause and manner of his death remain unknown.

According to sources, a family member found Holcombe dead in his home shortly after 3 p.m.

A spokesman from the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office said a cause of death had not been determined. A spokeswoman from the Police Department declined to comment on a cause of death, although she did say Holcombe's death was not listed as suspicious.

Holcombe was fired from the department in November after he was arrested following a custodial dispute with his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his children, who had filed numerous protection-from-abuse orders against him in the past.

According to police and cellphone video of the incident, Holcombe threatened to kill his ex in front of their son and two responding police officers.

"I'm going to jail right now because I'm going to kill you," Holcombe can be heard saying on the video.

During the incident, Holcombe also assaulted one of the responding officers who tried to calm him down, police said.

He was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest, terroristic threats, endangering the welfare of a child, harassment and disorderly conduct.

However, a judge dismissed all charges against Holcombe except for disorderly conduct at a preliminary hearing in January. The Daily News profiled the case in a cover story later that month.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office opted to refile all charges against Holcombe, and after two prior hearing dates, both of which were continued, Holcombe was slated for his new preliminary hearing on March 20.

At one of the continued hearing dates, Holcombe sat in the back of the courtroom, looking much older than his 42 years and much thinner than in his police photos.

Jeremy Alva, Holcombe's lawyer, was shocked and saddened by news of his death.

"It's always a sad moment when I lose a client because clients are people and no matter how one passes away, it's never easy to deal with," he said. "Lieutenant Holcombe was a fine police officer and he'll be sorely missed."

Holcombe, who most recently worked in the department's Neighborhood Services Unit, had prior troubles during his policing career. In 1997, the city settled a fatal shooting case against him for $750,000, and in 2009, a woman sued him for allegedly kicking in her door and punching her in the head.

Holcombe leaves behind two young sons.