Slain Philly officer was part of body camera experiment


The Philadelphia police officer killed yesterday while trying to break up a robbery was wearing a body camera during the incident, though the department said his camera was not rolling during the incident.

Officer Robert Wilson III was the first Philadelphia police officer slain in more than two years.  He visited at a GameStop store on Lehigh Avenue in North Philadelphia to pick up a gift for his nearly 9-year-old son. As he was at the register — in uniform — two young men announced a robbery and a gunfight ensued. The suspects used cardboard poster boards for cover as they fired.

Commissioner Charles Ramsey is calling on prosecutors to seek the death penalty for the two men apprehended in this case.  After watching the store’s surveillance video, Ramsey said Officer Wilson showed courage and tenacity.

“He’s moving back and forth firing at both suspects, who were both firing at him. He was taking rounds, he was being hit during the exchange of gunfire. But he continued to fight, continued to shoot until the fatal wound was shot. And it brought him down.”

The proposed city budget has money for equipping more cops with wearable cameras. 

Ramsey says officers, including Wilson have been testing the tiny video cameras but the budget proposal gives the department money to purchase several hundred more. 

“We had several total vendors that volunteered for a six month program, each giving us five cameras and we’ve been using them,” Ramsey said.  “We’ve already had some that have not met standards because they are just a little too flimsy.”

Ramsey says implementing a program is more than just buying the cameras, it’s upgrading the city’s computer infrastructure to handle all the video files.

“It shouldn’t take eight hours to upload an eight hour video,” he said. 

Up to 4,000 cameras will be needed to equip every patrol officer in the city.


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