Earlier this week, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said he believed the lethal police shooting of a 33-year-old Chester man was justified.
But many residents of Chester, a distressed city of about 34,000 near Southwest Philadelphia, still have questions about what happened.
On Thursday, a vigil took place at the site where police from three departments shot at Shalamar Longer nearly 100 times. Officers from the City of Chester, Upland Borough and Chester Borough on the scene said Longer pointed a gun at them, but never fired.
At the vigil, area religious leaders called on Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland to address the shooting. Several gathered at the vigil said they were not satisfied with the official explanation, questioning the number of bullets fired at a single man, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Chester blogger Stefan Roots said he didn’t understand how the police chase began.
According to Whelan, police noticed Longer had a burned-out license plate light while driving by him in Upland Borough.
Police say they made a U-turn on noticing the bulb and started following Longer. At that point, he took off.
Roots also questioned why Kirkland had not made any public statement.
“I think the community needs to know who they need to address their anger to,” he said.
On Friday evening, Kirkland did respond to a request for an interview. The incident was tragic, he said.
As for whether the district attorney’s preliminary investigation was fair, Kirkland said the county stepped in because it could be trusted to be impartial with many departments involved.
“I believe that the district attorney’s office did a thorough investigation,” he said. He believes video taken by the passenger in the vehicle strengthened Whelan’s conviction that the shooting was justified. There was no mention of video at Whelan’s Wednesday press conference announcing his findings.
While any loss of life is “excessive,” Kirkland said he had one main takeaway from the shooting and the barrage of bullets fired by police officers.
“It’s not the wisest thing to do to point at a gun at a police officer or police officers,” he said. “It never ends in a safe way.”
The district attorney’s office asked any witnesses with additional information to reach out.