Monday night, community groups held a town hall meeting with Philadelphia’s 18th Police District. About 50 residents from across the city voiced their concerns about the reassignment of two officers who shot an unarmed delivery driver in April 2014.On that night, dressed in plainclothes, officers Mitchell Farrell and Kevin Hanvey, responded to reports of gunshots in Southwest Philadelphia. Mistaking delivery driver Phillipe Holland for a suspect, they fired 14 shots as he drove away from the officers.
He suffered injuries to the face and leg. In January, he was awarded $4.4 million- the largest police settlement in the city’s history.
After a 25-day suspension without pay, officers Farrel and Hanvey have worked desk duty for the past three years. They have gone through additional training and medical evaluations, and are now back on the streets in new neighborhoods. Hanvey now patrols the 3rd district in South Philly, and Farrell is in the 8th in the Northeast.
Last month Larisa Mogano, President of Cobbs Creek Neighbors, penned a letter along with other West Philly community groups asking for the officers to be fired. And she’s frustrated that they are back on the job.
“I think the general feeling is that there’s more of a protection of fraternity than community. I have been fired before and I never cost my city, my business $4.4 million,” said Mogano.
Deputy Police Commissioner Robin Waverly says the district attorney decided against criminal charges against the officers, leaving the department few options.
“We have a lot of rules and regulations that we have to follow,” explained Waverly. “So if we fire an officer and the [Fraternal Order of Police] files a grievance and it goes to arbitration and the officer gets their job back they also get all their back pay,” she said.
In 2015 the Department of Justice released 91 recommendations for improving Philly police procedures, investigation, and training around the deadly use of force. The department says it has accomplished two thirds of this list, including an update that limits the circumstances under which officers can shoot at a moving vehicle.