Former Philly cop charged with fatally shooting Germantown man in the back

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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)

Updated: 2:30 p.m.

A former Philadelphia police officer has been indicted for fatally shooting a 30-year-old Germantown man in the back last year when he was still on the force.

City District Attorney Larry Krasner announced Tuesday he is charging Ryan Pownall, who is white, with homicide, possession of an instrument of crime, and reckless endangerment in the  shooting death of David Jones, who was black.

Pownall voluntarily turned himself in Tuesday.

It is the first time the DA’s office has filed charges against an on-duty police officer in the death of a suspect in about two decades.

Krasner said Pownall should not have shot Jones, and that he is filing charges to make sure officers who commit wrongdoing are held accountable — something Krasner promised to do on the campaign trail.

“I think there has been a tremendous lack of accountability for police officer misconduct, police crimes, in many many jurisdictions in the United States for a long time, and I don’t think Philadelphia is an exception,” said Krasner.

The charges were recommended by an investigating grand jury after it reviewed the case.

On June 8, 2017, Pownall was taking a family to the special victims unit when he saw 30-year-old Jones riding a dirt bike and decided to stop him in the city’s Juniata section.

After Pownall parked his patrol car next to a nightclub, the grand jury said he frisked Jones and felt a firearm, which led to a physical struggle. Pownall allegedly attempted to shoot Jones, but his gun jammed.

Jones threw down his gun before he ran from Pownall, and Pownall fired three shots at him. Two struck him in the back, according to the grand jury.

Three months after the shooting, Pownall was fired, but the incident continued to spark protests from activists who wanted to see the former officer charged.

“There’s no way that anybody could watch the video of David Jones being murdered and say that the cop was justified in killing him,” said Isaac Gardner of the Justice for David Jones Coalition after Krasner’s announcement.

Pownall was also among the officers who fired at Carnell Williams-Carney in 2010 while Williams-Carney was running away from a traffic stop. Williams-Carney was paralyzed after one of the bullets lodged in his back.

The head of Philadelphia’s police union, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, slammed Krasner’s decision to charge Pownall, calling it “an absolute disgrace.”

Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby speaks in support of ex-police officer Ryan Pownall, charged with murder in the shooting of David Jones. Pownall's family members (from right) wife Tina Pownall and brother Edward Pownall, look on.
Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby speaks in support of ex-police officer Ryan Pownall, charged with murder in the shooting of David Jones. Pownall’s family members (from right) wife Tina Pownall and brother Edward Pownall, look on. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

“The officer is entitled to due-process and currently is presumed innocent,” said FOP president John McNesby in a statement. “Today’s meritless indictment clearly illustrates DA Krasner’s anti-law-enforcement agenda.”

McNesby said the FOP stands with Pownall’s family.

“We promise a vigorous defense and expect Officer Pownall to be cleared of all charges and get his job back protecting the community,” he said.

WHYY reporters Tom MacDonald and Katie Colaneri contributed to this story.

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