After two days of investigation, authorities have determined the police shooting of an armed man in the city of Chester was justified because officers felt they were in danger.
After a short car chase, officers from three different police departments fired nearly 100 rounds at driver Shalamar Longer, 33, according to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan.
Longer was killed, but his passenger and cousin, Asmar Longer, 24, dove out of the car and survived with a minor ankle wound on his ankle, Whelan said during a news conference Wednesday.
Authorities used testimony from Asmar Longer and police on the scene to piece together the timeline of the shooting and determine if deadly force was allowable.
Just after 2 a.m. Monday, police from Upland Borough in Delaware County called in a report that the driver of a 2004 Chevy Trailblazer with a burned-out license plate light was avoiding them.
“In the process of calling in the license plate, the vehicle took off,” said Whelan.
Officers from the City of Chester, Chester Borough and Upland Borough followed the vehicle for about 10 minutes before boxing it in on a one-way, residential street in Chester. It hit a parked car and skidded to a stop on a small lawn in front of a house.
According to authorities, Asmar Longer said his cousin tried to elude police because having a gun would have violated terms of his release from prison, and he was afraid of going back. Shalamar Longer, who had several convictions, was on state parole as well as county probation.
When the vehicle stopped, Whelan said Asmar Longer said his cousin pulled out the gun and pointed it at police.
Shattered glass and car parts litter the scene of a fatal shooting by police on Keystone Road in Chester. (Emma Lee/WHYY)
At that point, six officers opened fire on the car, with more police standing by. Whelan initially said he could not say how many bullets were fired; pressed with evidence from the scene, he offered a wide range.
“We would say at this point over 50 … It could be close to 100,” said Whelan. A neighbor near the scene said she counted 92 evidence markers showing where shell casings fell after the shooting. Longer did not discharge his gun, which was loaded, Whelan said.
When using deadly force, police will often fire until their clips are empty, said the district attorney. That does not weigh into the determination of whether police acted appropriately.
“What we’re looking at is did that individual have the right to fire that gun from the beginning,” said Whelan.
The medical examiner’s report, showing how many times Longer was struck, is not available, according to Whelan. The district attorney’s office also said that none of the police cruisers on the scene were equipped with dashboard cameras to record the incident.
The investigation is ongoing but the outcome unlikely to change, according to Whelan.