No body cam footage in the Anthony Allegrini Jr. case, Pa. State Police say. His family still wants answers

Allegrini’s family is currently piecing the story together from snippets of video posted to social media by people who were on the interstate that night.

Listen 1:24
Gerard McShea at a podium

Pa. State Police Captain Gerard McShea described the events around the shooting of an 18-year-old by a state officer on Interstate 95 on Sunday morning, at a press conference at State Police headquarters in Philadelphia on June 5, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Working on a solution to gun violence and want to share it? Get in touch with gun violence prevention reporters Sammy Caiola and Sam Searles.

Anthony Allegrini Jr.’s family wants the whole story from the night a Pennsylvania State Police trooper shot and killed the 18-year-old while responding to a large crowd gathered to watch illegal street racing on I-95.

Details about the June 4 shooting, including the trooper’s name, won’t become public until the end of an ongoing investigation, said Captain Gerard McShea at a press conference last week. He said the unnamed officer who shot the teen did not have a body-worn camera.

None of the Pa. State Troopers currently have body cameras, McShea confirmed.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“We’re in the process of getting body cams,” he said. “I know it is coming out in the future. The funding is there. This is across the state. It takes a while to outfit an agency across the state. But we are moving to that.”

The trooper shot Allegrini Jr. while responding to an illegal car racing meetup, where McShea said a thousand people were gathered inside and outside vehicles. Allegrini Jr. drove  toward two state troopers and did not stop his car when they ordered him to stop, McShea said. One officer then fired a shot into the car, killing Allegrini Jr.

Allegrini Jr.’s family wants more information, and they’ve hired an attorney. They’re currently piecing the story together from snippets of video posted to social media by people who were on the interstate that night. The footage appears to show Allegrini Jr. laying on the interstate after being shot.

Incidents like this clearly illustrate the need for body-worn cameras, said John Rago, a Duquesne University law professor.

“They haven’t been able to make this the kind of priority that I would have liked to have seen it to become,” he said.

Rago was involved with creating Act 22 — a law that allows law enforcement officers to use audio and visual recording devices without violating the state’s wiretapping law.

“These agencies have had enough time to settle in,” Rago said. “Six years after the fact, I just think and hope that this becomes a higher priority when you see these police-citizen encounters resulting in a citizen’s death.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Police use-of-force, during fatal and nonfatal encounters, dropped by 10% after body-worn camera implementation, according to a 2021 study from the Chicago Crime Lab.

About 80% of local police departments with more than 500 employees equipped their officers with  body-worn cameras as of 2016. Those U.S. Department of Justice numbers are the most recent data available.

Enrique Latoison, an attorney for the Allegrini family, insists that body-worn camera footage could have been key to determining whether troopers followed protocol the night of Allegrini Jr.’s death.“We’re getting little bits of video from different people, you’re getting eyewitness testimony from people that saw something, but no one’s got it on video,” he said. “This is gonna come down to whether the officer was justified or not … a camera is unbiased.”

The Philadelphia House Delegation is calling for a “thorough investigation” of the shooting, according to a press release issued last week.

The officer who shot Allegrini Jr. is recovering from injuries, and was expected to return to work after a 72-hour administrative leave, McShea said the day after the shooting.

As far as a timeline for the Pa. State Police, McShea said there are plans to roll out a body-worn camera pilot program “in the coming months.”

While body-worn cameras can improve community-police relations by improving transparency, they don’t always deter negative behavior, points out Brenda Goss-Andrews, president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

“I would lean toward the training, and being able to train officers on de-escalation, how to manage volatile situations … and not just depend totally on the body-worn cameras,” she said.

There are several bills moving through the state Legislature right now that could establish new requirements for storing and reviewing body cam footage and authorize state parole agents to wear cameras. Nationally, the Department of the Interior is now requiring more than 3,000 law enforcement officers in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service to wear body cameras.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal