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Philly officer, shot in face in ’07, retires

A controversial Philadelphia police officer who survived a 2007 shotgun blast to the mouth has retired.

A controversial Philadelphia police officer who survived a 2007 shotgun blast to the mouth has retired.

Officer Richard DeCoatsworth left the force earlier this week because of injuries he sustained in the shooting, police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers confirmed Tuesday night.

DeCoatsworth, now 25, was a rookie when he approached a battered blue Buick driving suspiciously down a West Philadelphia street. He was hit in the face with a shotgun fired from the car - and managed to chase down and arrest the shooter despite his injury.

The incident made him a hero, and in 2009 he was invited to attend the first speech President Obama made to Congress on the economy.

But DeCoatsworth faced criticism for the number of Internal Affairs complaints, at least nine, made against him alleging misconduct. Only one of those complaints, made when DeCoatsworth was a cadet, was sustained, the Philadelphia Daily News reported.

DeCoatsworth's credibility was essentially put on trial over the summer by attorneys defending a man accused of using a motorcycle to try to run DeCoatsworth over in 2009.

At trial, witnesses and a forensic pathologist testified that DeCoatsworth had shot John James, then 20, of Kensington, from behind while James drove a motorcycle down a sidewalk near Amber and Haggert Streets. James was acquitted of aggravated assault, possession of an instrument of crime, and simple assault. He was found guilty of fleeing an officer and recklessly endangering another person.

Several months earlier, DeCoatsworth had been involved in another shooting. Anthony Temple, of Logan, lunged for DeCoatsworth's gun. Police said it went off during a struggle, hitting Temple in the back. Temple was fatally shot by another officer, and the District Attorney's Office cleared DeCoatsworth of wrongdoing.

DeCoatsworth could not be reached for comment Tuesday. He told the Daily News in September that his aggressive policing was aimed at preventing crime.