Philadelphia Police Kill Unarmed Driver Fleeing Traffic Stop

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -

The Philadelphia police commissioner says he’s “not making any judgments” pending an investigation into the shooting death of an unarmed driver by an officer during a traffic stop, one of two police shootings the same night.

Commissioner Richard Ross said the officer was on foot when the driver refused to stop his minivan and then attempted to drive off following the stop just before 1 a.m. Wednesday in the city’s Overbrook neighborhood.

Ross said the officer was trapped “between the car and some other area where he didn’t feel like he could escape” and fired his weapon. The vehicle struck several cars before coming to rest, police said. No weapon was found in the vehicle, investigators said.

Philadelphia police officers are barred from firing at vehicles “unless a person in the vehicle is immediately threatening the officer or another person with deadly force by means other than the vehicle,” according to the department’s directives on the use of force.

“A moving vehicle alone shall not presumptively constitute a threat that justifies an officer’s use of deadly force,” the policy states. The policy notes that shooting at a vehicle is “extremely” unlikely to disable or stop it and that disabling the driver may cause the vehicle to crash and injure others.

Police planned to interview all parties and search for other witnesses as well as reviewing surveillance video, police said.

“It’s very early in the investigation,” Ross said. “I’m not making any judgments about the investigation — whether it’s good or bad — at this particular time. We’re going to have to see.”

In a separate confrontation late Tuesday night in southwest Philadelphia, police shot and wounded a man after officers said he refused to drop a gun. Officers said they heard gunshots and saw a man firing into the air, and he fired at officers and missed before they returned fire. He was hit in the leg and was hospitalized in stable condition Wednesday.