A 28-year-old year old Logan man was killed by police yesterday during a violent confrontation with officers, including the highway patrolman who two years ago suffered a horrific shotgun wound to the face and this year sat next to Michelle Obama during a presidential address.
Police sources said yesterday's incident began about 1 p.m. when the patrolman, Officer Richard DeCoatsworth, asked a group of people to move from the corner of Warnock Street and Lindley Avenue.
That's when Anthony Temple, whose mother described him as schizophrenic, confronted DeCoatsworth and lunged for his gun, police sources said.
During a struggle, DeCoatsworth's gun went off, striking Temple, who then ran off, according to sources.
As Temple fled down Lindley, he encountered Officer Sean Boyle, who works for neighborhood services, police sources said. A second confrontation unfolded, with Temple grabbing Boyle's gun as the two struggled. An officer from the 35th District, James Kelly, arrived as backup and shot Temple, who collapsed and was pronounced dead at the scene by medics a short time later.
While witnesses questioned whether police acted properly, authorities said the officers were in a life-and-death struggle.
One of the witnesses, Wayne Witherspoon, said he recognized DeCoatsworth when the patrolman rode up on his motorcyle and asked the crowd to clear the corner. DeCoatsworth was seriously injured in September 2007 when a man fired a shotgun at his face during a West Philadelphia vehicle stop.
Witherspoon said that DeCoatsworth, with a distinctive scar on his face, was professional and that the group began to disperse. Temple, however, got up close to DeCoatsworth, who raised his hands, apparently to push him back, Witherspoon said.
As members of the crowd tried to tell DeCoatsworth that Temple had mental health problems, Witherspoon said, Temple swatted at DeCoatsworth's hand. He said DeCoatsworth pulled his gun and fired.
Lt. Frank Vanore, a police spokesman, said that Temple lunged at DeCoatsworth to get his gun and that the two were struggling for the weapon when it went off.
DeCoatsworth "was attacked," Vanore said.
Yesterday's fatal police shooting was the city's 10th this year, compared to six in a similar period last year.
DeCoatsworth, 23, was a rookie officer in September 2007 when he stopped a car in West Philadelphia and asked its four occupants to get out. One pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and fired at DeCoatsworth's head as he stood by his cruiser.
Though hit at almost point-blank range and bleeding heavily, DeCoatsworth managed to call for help and chase the shooter for two blocks before collapsing.
DeCoatsworth, who returned to work in June 2008, was promoted to the elite Highway Patrol and given the National Association of Police Organizations' 2008 "Top Cops" award. His attacker was arrested and convicted and is now in prison.
DeCoatsworth and 19 other Americans were invited in late February to sit in the box reserved for Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Biden, during a presidential address on the economy in February.
Witherspoon said he wondered whether deadly force was necessary. He said Temple, often seen in the neighborhood wearing only pajamas, was clearly disturbed.
Michelle Temple said her son - the oldest of her four children - had been found to have schizophrenia but was never violent. She said he was close to his three younger sisters and adored his nieces and nephews.
"He didn't bother nobody," Witherspoon said. "He was a happy person."
Michelle Temple said her son wanted to work in construction and enjoyed participating in basketball, boxing and karate.
"He loved people and people loved him," Temple said. "He would do anything for you."