Philadelphia is dealing with a shooting of a man in a dispute with an off-duty police officer. Josh Taylor, 23, was shot in the chest by an eighteen-year veteran of the police force who has not been identified. The officer reportedly claimed that Taylor had a gun, though neighbors insisted that Taylor was on his way to a gun range and did not pull out the weapon.
The off-duty officer recently moved into the neighborhood and the officer was reportedly using his pickup truck to help a relative move into a house on the block.
Taylor is now in a coma. He has a fiancée and a 3-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. He is given a 50-50 chance of survival.
Taylor’s fiancée Brittney Britton insisted that Taylor was pursued by the officer:
“Next thing you know my boyfriend is running in the house, shuts the door behind him,” Britton said. “The cop opened the door fully on his own, no warrant…got in a stance and just shot him right in the chest and ran… right over to his house and shut the door.”
According to reports, the officer told investigators that it was not about a parking space but his spotting a gun in Taylor’s hands. He said that Taylor was fleeing him when he ran into his house. He then reportedly ran back into his relative’s house. It is not clear, if this account is true, why the officer did not call for back up or why he left the scene.
Witnesses say that when police arrived at the scene, the officer gave them his badge and gun and they proceeded to hand both back to him. Witnesses say that the officer never identified himself as a police officer.
What is interesting is the immediate statement by Chief Charles Ramsey below that Taylor turned on the officer with a weapon and caused the shooting. For the record, I am co-lead counsel in the World Bank case where Ramsey is being sued for his role in the mass arrest during the IMF/World Bank protests (while he was Chief of Police in Washington). One would have expected a more circumspect statement since the matter is under investigation and witnesses disagree with the officer’s account. In the World Bank case, Ramsey immediately denied accounts of abusive arrests by officers — despite later admissions that hundreds were arrested without probable cause.
The officer could justify the invasion of the home on the basis of hot pursuit, though most departments would expect the office to call for backup. Taylor was reportedly shot in front of the young children. If true, the pursuit may have increased the risk of a shooting of an innocent bystander. On the other hand, if Taylor was visibly displaying a weapon, the officer was expected to take action. He would, however, be expected to identify himself as an officer.