Two former Philadelphia police officers have turned themselves in after being charged in connection to a 2008 off-duty shooting that paralyzed and later claimed the life of a West Oak Lane teen, according to officials with the District Attorney’s Office.
After a four-year investigation and a grand jury report, Chauncy Ellison Sr., 39, a former sergeant with the 22nd District, was charged Friday with voluntary manslaughter and other offenses for allegedly shooting Lawrence Allen, then 19, outside of his home on the 1900 block of Renovo Street.
Robin Fortune, 44, who also served in the 22nd District and was Ellison’s girlfriend at the time, was charged with conspiracy and recklessly endangering another person.
Ellison Sr. allegedly fired at Allen as the young father attempted to diffuse a dispute over stolen pizza. Fortune allegedly egged Ellison on to shoot.
“This young man was shot over a pizza by someone who was supposed to protect and serve our community. Words cannot adequately describe how tragic that is,” said District Attorney Seth Williams in a statement.
Details of the 2008 incident
On November 17, 2008, Ellison’s 14-year-old son, Chauncy, told his father that 16-year-old Demetrius “Meaty” Haywood had punched him and stolen his pizza upon leaving a local shop, according to the grand jury report.
In response, an armed Ellison – with his son, Fortune and Fortune’s daughter in tow – hopped into his SUV and began searching the neighborhood for Haywood.
After finding and then losing Haywood and a friend near Cheltenham Avenue, the group continued to hunt for the teen, eventually finding him after “careening” the wrong way up Renovo, a one-way street.
On Renovo, Ellison Sr. found Haywood with his friend, Allen.
Ellison drew his police-issued handgun and pointed in Haywood’s direction. Allen, reportedly looking to “calm the situation,” stepped between the barrel and his friend. He even offered to pay for the stolen pizza, according to eyewitness testimony.
Though Fortune and others, including Ellison Jr. and her daughter, would later testify that Allen had nothing to do with the robbery, Fortune provoked Ellison to shoot.
“Pop one of these m___f___,” she told Ellison, according to the report.
Ellison then shot Allen in the back and left shoulder area in front of his family and numerous neighbors.
The father of three became a paraplegic as result and died less than three months later at the age of 20, after spending nearly all of his time in treatment for various complications that stemmed from the shooting.
‘Result of emotion and passion, not reason’
Contrary to police directives, Ellison did not call 911 to report the robbery until after he shot Allen, according to court documents.
“The Grand Jurors determined that the credible evidence established that Ellison chose to handle the matter himself,” said the report. “The shooting of Lawrence Allen by Chauncey Ellison was the result of emotion and passion, not reason.”
The jury decided that Fortune served as an instigator of the incident and therefore deserved to be charged in connection to Allen’s death.
It’s unclear if Allen was armed. Testimony to that end was inconsistent, according to the report.
No gun was ever found on the victim. Only Ellison’s firearm was ever recovered.
Hearing set for later this month
Ellison Sr. and Fortune were fired from the department in 2010 as a result of the incident.
The pair turned themselves in and were arraigned Friday, said Tasha Jamerson, a spokesperson with the DA’s Office.
Bail for Ellison was set at $150,000 and $75,000 for Fortune, added Jamerson. Their preliminary hearing is set for July 25.
“The arrests of Ellison and Fortune should send a message to all criminals in Philadelphia,” said District Attorney Seth Williams in the same statement. “We will prosecute you for your crimes, no matter who you are, no matter what job title you may have; if you break the law in Philadelphia my office will come after you.”