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NJ cops won’t face penalty for making too few arrests under new bill

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Under the proposal, agencies would be barred from using the number of arrests made or citations issued to evaluate an officer’s overall performance

Credit By Blake Nelson for – nj.com December 14, 2020

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey lawmakers advanced a bill Friday to prevent cops from facing demotion, discipline or pay cuts just because they didn’t arrest more people.

A department would be barred from considering the number of arrests made or citations issued when evaluating an officer’s overall performance, under a proposal (S1322) approved 6-0 by the state Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

Current law allows those statistics to be one of the factors considered when officials weigh promotions, demotions, dismissals, discipline and salaries.

Police “are all too often pressured to write more tickets to increase revenue and help municipalities balance their budgets,” state Sen. Shirley Turner, D- Mercer and one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement. Other departments have been accused of having secret arrest “quotas,” she said.

“These policies, whether written or unwritten, have fallen hardest upon low-income individuals and people of color,” Turner added.

The bill would still allow arrest and citation statistics to be tracked. The proposal must pass the full Senate and Assembly before it can head to the governor’s desk.

Several policing reforms have advanced since George Floyd protests swept the state. The governor recently signed a bill into law largely requiring departments to use body cameras, but other reforms have stalled.

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Police prepare for protests after officer-involved shooting in Philadelphia leaves criminal dead

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November 13, 2020 – Credit Law Enforcement Today

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Police in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania got into a vehicle pursuit with a man who was armed with a gun.

When the subject crashed his car during the pursuit, he began to fire on the officers, prompting them to return fire, striking and killing the man.

The incident occurred on November 12th when officers in an unmarked police vehicle noted a red Ford Mustang that was stopped in an intersection near B and Stella Streets.

The officers honked their horn, apparently hoping the driver would move out of the intersection and allow them to pass, but the car did not move.

Officers exited their vehicle and approached the man, who was holding a gun in his hand. When they got the man’s attention, he seemed startled and fled. 

The vehicle pursuit continued until the car crashed near Jasper Street and Hart Lane. The driver, who has not been identified at this time, took off in an attempt to get away from the officers. 

Fearing for their lives, the officers returned fire, striking the man. Officers rushed into render aid to the man, and called for medics to respond to the scene. Once they arrived, they transported the suspect to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Thankfully, the police were not injured during the incident. The officers involved will be placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is normal procedure for these cases. 

Philadelphia Police Sergeant Eric Gripp said:

“When the officers in their unmarked vehicle came upon that crash, one of the officers exited the vehicle and stayed with the crashed vehicle to preserve that scene. While the other officer stayed inside of their unmarked car to try to ascertain the location of the driver.

“Shortly thereafter, he came upon this male…at which point the officer exited his vehicle [and] attempted to stop the male. From what we have through surveillance footage and body cam footage…it appears that the offender fired at least two shots at our police officer. 

“Our police officer fired at least two shots in return, striking the male…that male was transported by police to Einstein Hospital and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter…

This is a very fluid situation…while this investigation is taking place, it will be handled by our Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Unit along with Internal Affairs who will provide the results of their concurrent investigations to the District Attorney’s Office.”

“New dash cam video shows the 39 year old suspect in the red mustang fleeing from police, driving the wrong way and almost hitting Avi D, in his car. The suspect eventually crashed, and fled on foot before exchanging shots with @PhillyPolice.”

At this point, police stated that they have identified the male as a 39-year-old Hispanic, but they are not releasing his name. This is most likely because they have not made contact with the man’s next of kin.

The City of Philadelphia is just getting over the mass riots, protests, and looting that occurred after police shot and killed Walter Wallace, Jr. In that incident, police were called because Wallace was threatening family members with a knife.

When police arrived on the scene, they made contact with Wallace who was still armed with the knife. Officers backed up, almost to the point of running away from Wallace, while shouting orders for the man to drop the knife, which he ignored.

After several orders were ignored and Wallace appeared to pick up his pace towards officers, they opened fire, striking and killing him at the scene.

Despite the video evidence which proves officers account of the situation, the city still became a center of unrest because Wallace allegedly suffered from mental illness which is believed by the family to have caused the incident.

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2 officers ambushed in New Orleans, one shot in face by man in pedicab

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The officers were in an SUV when the pedicab approached

Credit: The New Orleans Advocate

NEW ORLEANS — A pedicab passenger inexplicably shot a New Orleans police officer in the face in the French Quarter on Friday afternoon, just as revelers began arriving to celebrate Halloween weekend.

The officer was wounded at about 4:25 p.m. while in his patrol vehicle near St. Philip and Royal streets. Other officers took him to a hospital rather than wait for paramedics, and police arrested the alleged gunman within minutes, Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said.

Ferguson said the officer was in serious but stable condition after being shot under his left eye. The bullet was lodged in the officer’s skull, but the four-year veteran, whose name was not immediately released, was responsive as he walked into the hospital holding his cheek, Ferguson said.

A second officer, a 16-year veteran, was wounded by glass shards in the shooting, from a shattered window on the cruiser.

“Two of our officers were ambushed,” said Ferguson, who said officers confiscated a gun that they think was used in the shooting. “This is a dark day.”

Ferguson said the suspect, who had a gun holster on him, appeared to be experiencing some type of medical episode when he was captured. He said the man was taken to a hospital for evaluation, and he made clear that the arresting officers did not use any physical force on the suspect.

“I want to commend those officers for maintaining professionalism,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson did not identify the suspect or specify what charges he would face.

Friday night, a law enforcement source identified the suspect as Donnell Linwood Hansel, 45. 

Several eyewitnesses said two officers were in an SUV on Royal Street crossing St. Philip when a pedicab riverbound on St. Philip approached. A man in the back of the pedicab stood up and fired at least five shots into the driver’s side door of the police vehicle, they said. The shooter ran off as the pedicab crashed.

Gabriel Shaffer, an artist who owns a gallery on that block of Royal, said he heard the wounded officer get out of the vehicle while moaning and exclaiming in pain.

“I could clearly hear him say, ‘Oh, my God, somebody just took my life!'” Shaffer said. “It was pretty awful.”

Tour guides Angie Still and Karen Fernandez said they were just a few yards away when the shooting erupted. They saw an officer on the passenger side of the targeted police vehicle jump out and scream, “Officer down!” Neither officer from the vehicle appeared to have time to return fire.

“We were just sitting there in shock,” Still said.

Douglas Mackar, who was in a building overlooking the scene of the shooting, said he heard the gunshots and ran to the window. He said he saw the driver of the pedicab crash into the sidewalk and run for cover.

Mackar said he ran from the window to check on his girlfriend, and by the time he returned, the wounded officer had already been whisked away to the hospital. “Whoever was first on the scene got him loaded up and out of here within seconds,” Mackar said.

A woman who asked that her name not be published said she saw the suspected shooter flailing, screaming and trying to bite first responders who were loading him into an ambulance after his arrest.

At the wig shop Fifi Mahoney’s, employees grabbed a few passerby from the street and locked them inside along with six customers. One customer, a doctor, left and dashed to the shooting scene to help, returning later with bloodied hands to take his wife home, an employee said.

Ferguson said passersby helped officers find the gunman by pointing him out as he ran to the intersection of St. Peter and Decatur streets. A retired Army veteran performed first aid on the officer’s face wound before he was taken to the hospital, Ferguson said.

The police chief thanked those members of the public for each of those actions, which came amid a party atmosphere that is typical in the French Quarter on a Friday evening.

Donovan Livaccari of the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge called the shooting was a sobering reminder of the dangers inherent to professional law enforcement.

“Merely driving down the street … can lead to gunfire,” he said. “These two officers were not responding to a call for service. They were not looking for an armed subject on a pedicab. They were driving around in the French Quarter on routine patrol.”

“If the city can’t even keep the police safe, how can we feel safe?” wondered a worried Kim Planche Hunter, who has lived in the French Quarter resident for 70 years.

Ferguson said the attack marked a particularly grueling hour in what has been a difficult year for both his agency and the city. Not only has New Orleans been gripped by the deadly coronavirus pandemic since March, it also took a direct hit two days earlier from Hurricane Zeta, a strong Category 2 storm that caused widespread damage and left tens of thousands without electricity even two days later.

“We’ll get through this together,” Ferguson said.

Katelyn Umholtz contributed to this report.

(c)2020 The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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Fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. prompts heated overnight protests in West Philly

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The shooting was caught by multiple cameras and shows Wallace charging officers yielding a knife swinging it aggressively at the police.

Police officers fatally shot a 27-year-old Black man armed with a knife during a confrontation Monday afternoon in West Philadelphia, an incident that quickly raised tensions in the neighborhood and sparked a standoff that lasted deep into the night.

Late Monday into early Tuesday, police struggled to respond to vandalism and looting along the commercial corridor of 52nd Street, an area that was the scene of clashes between police and protestors earlier this summer. At least one police vehicle was set on fire Monday night and destroyed.

By morning, an officer was hospitalized in stable condition with a broken leg after being struck by a pickup truck, police said. About 29 other officers suffered mostly minor injuries from being struck by rocks, bricks, and other projectiles, police said in a preliminary report.

Authorities detained 10 people overnight near 55th and Pine Street, police said, and those people were set to be released pending possible charges of assaulting police or rioting. Police said officers arrested about 20 people in relation to looting at various stores in West Philadelphia, University City, Overbrook Park, and Center City, some of which were not near the protest.

Six law enforcement vehicles were also vandalized, police said.

Hours earlier, shortly before 4 p.m., police said, two officers responded to the 6100 block of Locust Street after a report of a man with a knife. Family members identified him as Walter Wallace Jr.

A video posted on social media showed Wallace walking toward the officers and police backing away. The video swings briefly out of view at the moment the gunfire erupts but he appeared to be multiple feet from them when they fired numerous shots.

Police spokesperson Sgt. Eric Gripp said the officers had ordered Wallace to drop the weapon, and he “advanced towards the officers.” Gripp said investigators are reviewing footage of what happened. Both officers were wearing body cameras.

He said both officers fired “several times.” After the man was shot, he fell to the ground, and Gripp said one of the officers drove him to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he died.

Walter Wallace Sr., the man’s father, said his son appeared to have been shot 10 times.

“Why didn’t they use a Taser?” the senior Wallace asked outside a family residence on the block. “His mother was trying to defuse the situation.”

He said his son struggled with mental health issues and was on medication. “He has mental issues,” Wallace said. “Why you have to gun him down?”

One witness, Maurice Holloway, said he was on the street talking to his aunt when he saw police arrive. Wallace had a knife and was standing on the porch of his home, Holloway said, and officers immediately drew their guns.

Wallace’s mother chased after him as he walked down the steps of his porch, still holding the knife, according to Holloway. His mother tried to shield Wallace and tell police he was her son.

“I’m yelling, ‘Put down the gun, put down the gun,’ and everyone is saying, ‘Don’t shoot him, he’s gonna put it down, we know him,’” said Holloway, 35.

Wallace brushed off his mother and walked behind a car before emerging again, Holloway said.

“He turns and then you hear the shots,” Holloway said. “They were too far from him; it was so many shots.”

Gripp said it was unclear how many times the man was shot or where he was struck. The officers fired possibly a dozen or more times, according to an account by witnesses and family members. Police marked the crime scene with at least 13 evidence markers.

Both officers, who were not publicly identified, were taken off street duty pending an investigation.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw arrived at the scene shortly after the incident as a crowd of neighbors yelled at police and questioned the use of force. By 6:30 p.m. police reopened the street and the crowd had largely dispersed.

But dozens of protesters then gathered at Malcolm X Park at 51st and Pine Streets, chanting “Black Lives Matter.” They marched to the police station at 55th and Pine Streets as they chanted, “Say his name: Walter Wallace.”

For hours, protesters confronted officers who stood in a line with riot shields behind metal barricades at the station. People in the crowd could be seen throwing objects at the officers. A group also marched into University City, at least one TV news vehicle was vandalized, and police reported that windows had been broken on Chestnut Street.

Between 100 and 200 people then moved to the 52nd Street commercial district and caused considerable property damage from Market to Spruce Streets. Shortly before 1 a.m., a speeding black truck ran over an officer at 52nd and Walnut Street. The incident was captured on an Instagram livestream. The condition of the officer was not immediately known.

The 52nd Street corridor was the scene of unrest on May 31 and early June as nationwide protests erupted over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Protesters clashed with Philadelphia officers and set police vehicles on fire; police responded with rubber bullets and tear gas on residential streets. Since then, the police department has forbidden the use of tear gas.

At times Monday, the scene threatened to repeat. Just before midnight, someone set fire to a police vehicle on the street. Ultimately, more officers in riot gear arrived and flooded the neighborhood, dispersing the crowd.

Mayor Jim Kenney, in a statement Monday night, pledged a full investigation into the shooting that sparked the night. “My prayers are with the family and friends of Walter Wallace,” he said. “I have watched the video of this tragic incident and it presents difficult questions that must be answered. I spoke tonight with Mr. Wallace’s family, and will continue to reach out to hear their concerns firsthand, and to answer their questions to the extent that I am able.”

Outlaw, too, said the department would conduct an inquiry. “Residents have my assurance that those questions will be fully addressed by the investigation,” she said. “While at the scene this evening, I heard and felt the anger of the community. Everyone involved will forever be impacted. I will be leaning on what the investigation gleans to answer the many unanswered questions that exist. I also plan to join the Mayor in meeting with members of the community and members of Mr. Wallace’s family to hear their concerns as soon as it can be scheduled.”

Arnett Woodall, a community organizer who lives a few blocks away, came to the scene shortly after the incident. He said he immediately saw how many evidence markers were in the street and felt it was “a textbook example of excessive force.”

Then he saw the video. “Why not a warning shot?” Woodall, 56, asked. “Why not a Taser? Why not a shot in the leg?”

He said the incident shows why police must implement stronger community policing protocols and why the city should invest in town watch programs.

“The city of Philadelphia can do better,” he said.

District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement Monday evening: “The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office takes its obligation to try to be fair and to seek evenhanded justice seriously. The DAO Special Investigations Unit responded to today’s fatal shooting of a civilian by police shortly after it occurred, and has been on scene with other DAO personnel since that time investigating.”

Krasner encouraged witnesses or others with information to contact the District Attorney’s Office.

”In the hours and days following this shooting, we ask Philadelphians to come together to uphold people’s freedom to express themselves peacefully and to reject violence of any kind,” he said.

John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said in a statement: “Our police officers are being vilified this evening for doing their job and keeping the community safe, after being confronted by a man with a knife. We support and defend these officers, as they too are traumatized by being involved in a fatal shooting.

“We ask the public for its patience as investigators work to gather all the facts of this tragic incident in West Philadelphia today.”

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