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City to pay $1M to family of man shot by cop

Although the settlement with Doretha Crosby did not include an admission of liability by the city, officials lamented the death of her son, David Jones, who was shot in the back by Ryan Pownall during a traffic stop in June 2017.

Former girlfriend upset about Police plans to hold Fundraiser for Ryan Pownall, who faces firing.
Former girlfriend upset about Police plans to hold Fundraiser for Ryan Pownall, who faces firing.Read moreFamily photo

The City of Philadelphia will pay $1 million to avoid a potential lawsuit from the mother of a man fatally shot by a city police officer last year, officials said Friday.

Although the settlement with Doretha Crosby does not include an admission of liability by the city, officials lamented the death of her son, David Jones, 30, who was shot in the back by former Police Officer Ryan Pownall during a traffic stop in June 2017.

"The shooting death of David Jones was a tragic incident," Mayor Kenney said in a statement, "and I hope this resolution will begin to assist his family in moving forward after what they have been through. My administration remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring all people in our city receive fair and equal treatment at the hands of law enforcement officials."

Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who fired Pownall in September 2017 over his actions in the deadly encounter, said his department considers "the preservation of life" to be its highest priority.

"The use of deadly force by police officers in Philadelphia should be a last resort," Ross said. "The department's policy is that officers will use deadly force only where there is an immediate threat of death or serious physical injury to themselves or another person."

City Solicitor Marcel S. Pratt said in a statement that Jones' family had asked the city to resolve potential legal claims without litigation, which he said "would have caused the family to relive this tragedy and the agony of their loss."

In an interview, Crosby said the settlement in her son's death would not "bring him back. I just hope we get justice and everything works out the right way. My son didn't do no harm to that cop, and he didn't have to kill him. I'm worried about justice, and if this cop is going to go to jail for murder."

"It can't bring his life back, but it's something," Thomas David Jones, Jones' father, said of the settlement. He said he plans to attend Thursday's court hearing, at which Common Pleas Court Judge Robert P. Coleman is expected to rule on whether Pownall will be tried for first-degree murder or on a lesser charge.

"I just hope it stays the same and [the charge] doesn't get dropped down," Jones said. "From the investigation and the video, he was wrong. You don't have to be a lawyer to see that. David's hands were up, and he was no threat to anyone."

Pownall, 36, was charged with murder and related crimes last month and has been jailed without bail since. He has pleaded not guilty.

His attorney, Fortunato Perri Jr., and John McNesby, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police — which is paying for his defense — did not return phone calls seeking comment on the settlement. Perri and McNesby have denounced Pownall's arrest and maintain that he acted in self-defense.

Jones was the second man Pownall shot in the back during a 12-year career on the force. He was not charged in the first shooting, which left a man paralyzed from the waist down.

Crosby's attorneys, John M. Dodig and Robert J. Levant, said in a statement that Jones' death "was a tragic and senseless loss of life. David Jones was loved by countless family members and friends, and will always be remembered as a hard-working citizen who was dedicated to his family and friends. The death of David Jones was completely preventable, and his family hopes that lessons are learned from this tragedy."

The settlement is one of several recent payouts by the city to settle lawsuits involving the Police Department.

In August, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had entered into a three-year settlement agreement with the Police Department under which eight individuals would receive a total of $97,500 over complaints the police had not provided effective communication to deaf detainees and crime victims.

Last month, the city settled a lawsuit filed against Philadelphia Police Officer Cyrus Mann for $600,000. Gregory Porterfield, 59, who survived being shot eight times by Mann, 34, and his partner Officer Joseph Reiber during a June 2014 traffic stop in Lawncrest, settled a federal excessive-force lawsuit against the officers and the city. Mann remains on the force despite having shot three people in three years, one fatally.

The settlement brought to more than $1.2 million the amount of taxpayer money the city has paid to settle suits in which Mann is a defendant. That includes $465,000 paid to the family of Hassan Pratt, 28, who was fatally shot by Mann during an August 2012 traffic stop in West Philadelphia. Mann was fired for killing Pratt in 2015 but was rehired and received back pay in 2016 after an arbitrator ruled in his favor.

In addition, in June, after DNA evidence exonerated him, Anthony Wright, a Philadelphia man who had served nearly 25 years of a life-without-parole sentence for a 1991 rape and murder, received a nearly $10 million settlement from the city, the largest wrongful-conviction payout in Philadelphia history.

The $9.85 million payment to Wright, 46, is more than double the largest previous payout by the city, of $4.4 million made in January 2017 to college student and food deliveryman Philippe Holland. He was shot multiple times by two plainclothes police officers after he had dropped off a cheeseburger at a West Philadelphia home in 2014.