Philadelphia to pay $1M settlement over fatal police shooting of David Jones

Isaac Gardner, with the Justice for David Jones Coalition, speaks with members of the media in Philadelphia last month. Philadelphia has agreed to pay Jones' family $1 million over the fatal shooting of Jones by former officer Ryan Pownall last year. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Isaac Gardner, with the Justice for David Jones Coalition, speaks with members of the media in Philadelphia last month. Philadelphia has agreed to pay Jones' family $1 million over the fatal shooting of Jones by former officer Ryan Pownall last year. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The city of Philadelphia Friday agreed to pay $1 million to the family of David Jones, a black man who was shot and killed by an on-duty white police officer last summer following a traffic stop in Northeast Philadelphia. The now former officer is facing murder charges.

“The shooting death of David Jones was a tragic incident, and I hope this resolution will begin to assist his family in moving forward after what they have been through,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

Jones’ family agreed to the deal without filing a civil rights lawsuit. Under the out-of-court agreement, the city does not admit any wrongdoing, officials said.

In June 2017, Jones, 30, was pulled over while riding a dirt bike around Juniata Park and illegally carrying a gun. After Officer Ryan Pownall patted down Jones and felt the firearm, a scuffle ensued. Pownall tried to fire his service weapon, but it jammed. Jones dropped his own gun and ran — and Pownall shot him twice in the back, killing him. Investigators later recovered Jones’ weapon about 30 feet away from where he was killed.

A grand jury determined that Pownall was not in danger and should not have fired his weapon, calling Jones’ death unnecessary.

Sparking protests across the city, the case became one of  Philadelphia’s most high-profile criminal prosecutions in recent months.

District Attorney Larry Krasner has charged Pownall with murder, and he remains in jail awaiting trial. Top police officials, who also have condemned the shooting, suspended him from the force. Longtime observers of the city’s police department say that, if Pownall is acquitted by the jury, he stands a chance of getting his job back.

In a Friday statement, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross did not comment on the settlement or the shooting, but he underscored the department’s policy on using deadly force, saying it should be a “last resort.”

The department’s “policy is that officers will use deadly force only where there is an immediate threat of death or serious physical injury to themselves or another person,” Ross said.

Supporters of Jones’ family applauded the settlement, saying they hope Pownall’s trial will help make the family whole.

“I continue to stand with the family of David Jones in their battle for justice,” said Asa Khalif with Pennsylvania’s Black Lives Matter chapter. “I look forward to former police officer Ryan Pownall’s trial and pray he is convicted and sentenced to prison.”

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