A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Donte Walker, 18, on Feb. 2 at the Criminal Justice Center, room 803.
Walker, of the 5600 block of Sydenham Street, has been charged with weapons offenses, conspiracy and related charges for the Jan. 17 incident at the Delaware Valley Charter High School in which two students were wounded by gunfire.
Investigators allege that they discovered additional video footage that shows the exchange of what appears to be a black handgun for cash just prior to the shooting. The male who handed off the handgun was identified as Walker, a former student who graduated in 2013.
After an exchange of money between Walker and the other still-unidentified male, the object was allegedly passed to Raisheem Rockwell in the gym, who was arrested on Jan. 18.
Investigators allege that Walker concealed the handgun and entered the school. Rockwell was reportedly going to be the target of an assault after school and may have requested the gun for that reason. Investigators discovered that as a former student, Walker was considered a guest in the school and did not have to pass the metal detectors.
Just before 3:30 p.m., students were inside the gymnasium when two were wounded by gunfire. An 18-year-old female student was shot in the left arm. The bullet exited her bicep and then struck a 17-year-old male student in the shoulder. Both were rushed to Albert Einstein Medical Center for treatment and released. No one else was injured.
Killers sought by police
Homicide detectives are investigating several unrelated murders that recently happened in the city, bringing the number of killings to 23 since the start of 2014. The city has an open reward of $20,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any murder suspect.
The Philadelphia Police Department’s Homicide Unit is looking to identify the suspects who fatally shot Amber Long, 26, on Jan. 19.
The killing occurred in the city’s Fishtown section just after 10:30 p.m. in the 900 block of North Front Street. Long and her mother were walking when they were approached by two still-unidentified males who grabbed their purses. When one of the suspects grabbed Amber’s purse, he fired one shot striking her in the chest and fatally wounded her.
The offenders were last seen fleeing north on Front Street in a newer four door car, possibly a Chevy Impala. Amber was transported to Hahnemann Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
In an unrelated murder investigation, on Jan. 17, at 10:40 p.m., police from the 16th District responded to a report of a shooting inside of a residence in the 4200 block of Parkside Avenue.
Upon arrival, officers located Ernest Torrence, 49, inside the residence suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the head and torso. Torrence was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:46 p.m. No arrests have been made as of Tribune press time.
A pretrial hearing was held for Darrin Manning, the high school student who claims he was roughed up by police on Jan. 7, on Thursday morning at Philadelphia’s Family Court.
Manning, 16, has been charged with simple assault, resisting arrest and recklessly endangering another person. His next hearing is set for March 7, 2014. The charges stem from a confrontation with police on Girard Avenue in North Philadelphia, in which Manning claims he was injured by a female responding officer. The hearing was followed by an impromptu press conference by Manning’s mother, Ikea Coney, family members and supporters from the local chapter of the National Action Network, and his attorney Lewis Small outside 1801 Vine St.
“All we want is justice for my son,” Coney said. “My son has nightmares about what happened to him. He’s a good boy trying to get an education. He’s confused and hurt. He’s not handling this well at all and doesn’t sleep at night. He keeps wondering why the police did what they did. I haven’t even heard from the police about this and in fact, on the day they arrested him when I went to pick him up, some of them were laughing at me.
The Philadelphia Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the allegations that officers used an inappropriate degree of force during an incident on Jan. 7 at 15th Street and Girard Avenue. On that date, Manning, a sophomore at the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School was among those scheduled to play basketball against Frankford High at the Berean Institute. Manning became involved in a confrontation with Philadelphia police officers; an incident that his mother and attorney Lewis Small said caused an injury that ruptured his genitals.
Small said he is calling for a federal investigation and the charges against his client should be dropped.
“The police could have just asked Darrin where he was going — and that’s what they were supposed to do,” said defense attorney Lewis Small. “He would have told them he was going to play basketball. He’s not interested in arguing with the police or fighting with them. So the police acted totally inappropriately here. They assaulted him, figuring this was just another Black youth. They’ve not had the sensitivity training required, and they’re going to have to pay the price for this. We want the charges withdrawn, because they’re outrageous.”
Surveillance footage from the location is being reviewed and the police department is conducting an investigation. However, as of Tribune press time no complaint has been filed with Internal Affairs or the Police Advisory Commission.
“Obviously this is a serious issue and we are watching how this unfolds, but they have not filed a complaint with the commission, and I’ve not heard from the parents or the boy’s attorney asking for our involvement,” said Kelvyn Anderson, Executive Director of the Police Advisory Commission. The commission is the official civilian oversight agency of the Philadelphia Police Department. It conducts investigations of complaints of police misconduct.
A city-owned and operated surveillance camera is a revolving system and only shows portions of the incident. The police report filed by Officer Thomas Purcell alleges that Manning attempted to cause bodily injury to him by punching him three times. Manning allegedly ripped off Purcell’s radio during the confrontation and had to be taken into custody. During the altercation, Manning alleges one of the female officers squeezed his genitals and pulled on them, an action that later required emergency surgery.
His attorney claims his client wasn’t involved in any criminal behavior, and the actions of the police were inappropriate. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said he’s troubled by the fact that no complaint has been filed. A female officer who was at the scene was placed on desk duty, but Ramsey said without Manning’s testimony he’s not even certain if the right officer was temporarily taken off the streets.
“We have an open investigation based on news reports, but we have yet to speak with either his attorney, his parents on this young man,” Ramsey said. “It’s important because with all of the news reports and conversation we can’t get all of the facts as to what happened. Until we speak to him there’s not a whole lot we can do.”
The Philadelphia Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating allegations that officers used an inappropriate degree of force during an incident involving a student from a local high school.
On Jan. 7, Darrin Manning, 16, a sophomore at the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School was among those scheduled to play basketball against Frankford High at the Berean Institute. Manning became involved in a confrontation with Philadelphia police officers; an incident that his mother, school founder and CEO Veronica Joyner, and attorney Lewis Small said caused an injury that ruptured his genitals.
“I don’t know why they stopped me,” Manning said, talking to Tribune reporters who visited his school. When reporters originally spoke with his mother, Ikea Coney, she was extremely distraught over the situation.
The police report filed by Officer Thomas Purcell alleges that Manning attempted to cause bodily injury to the officer by punching him three times. He allegedly ripped off Purcell’s radio during the confrontation and had to be taken into custody. Manning has been charged with simple assault, resisting arrest and recklessly endangering another person. During the altercation, Manning alleges one of the female officers squeezed his genitals hard; an action that later required emergency surgery. His attorney Lewis Small claims his client wasn’t involved in any criminal behavior, and the actions of the police were inappropriate.
“Whatever the police determine, their actions were clearly inappropriate,” Small said. “He was on his way to play a basketball game and wasn’t involved in any criminal conduct. They stopped him and the other boys because they were running. So they were running; is that considered suspicious activity? Even if the officers thought something suspicious was happening, all they had to do was stop them and ask them where they were going. They would have found out the boys were going to play a scheduled basketball game, which they could have easily confirmed. Instead, what could have been a routine pedestrian stop escalated and other officers responded. How in the world did an officer squeeze his genitals so hard it caused a rupture? That’s a serious injury. I simply can’t reconcile appropriate police conduct with this incident.”
The incident is being thoroughly investigated, according to Lt. John Sanford, spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department. Surveillance recordings taken that day are also being reviewed to determine what exactly sparked the altercation. According to Manning, his mother, Ikea Coney, Joyner, Small and Sanford, the teen was with a group of about 14 other boys from the school and were headed to the Berean Institute. They took the Broad Street Subway to Broad and Girard, and as they were heading to the surface they were observed by police.
“What seems to be consistent so far is that he was with a group of other boys and these boys intentionally got the attention of the officers. They covered their faces with what may have been ski masks or scarves and then ran,” Sanford said. “It appears at that point that he [Manning] began to struggle with the officer and struck one three times and knocked his radio off. The officer called for assistance and during the struggle they went to the ground. Responding officers managed to put cuffs on. He does seem to have suffered an injury, and of course that is being investigated. Surveillance recordings are being reviewed and there is a rotating city camera at the location. That camera shows different portions of the incident. You can see the boys running and in another frame you see the officers arriving at the scene but they don’t jump out in an aggressive manner from what I’ve observed. But again, this is a rotating camera so portions of the incident aren’t picked up – we see the struggle in part, not in its entirety. Was the stop appropriate, yes, when you consider the robberies that take place at SEPTA stations and the so-called knock [out] game. When a group of teens intentionally get my attention and then cover their faces, at least I’m going to stop them and question them. That’s reasonable.”
Veronica Joyner, founder and CEO of the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School said she is very disturbed by what happened. Manning, she said, is a straight-A student who has never exhibited any discipline problems.
“Why were they stopped in the first place? I believe it was just because they were young Black males. They didn’t tell him why they were stopping him or why they were taking him to jail. These boys were headed to a basketball game. They were wearing the scarves I gave them because it was so cold. They were gone about 10 or 15 minutes and then I get a call that Darrin was being arrested. He had no drugs on him and no weapons. I think they just stereotyped this boy,” Joyner said.
Family members and law enforcement officials were outraged this week when Court of Common Pleas Judge Teresa Sarmina overturned the death sentenced for Edward Bracey. Bracey was convicted for the 1992 slaying of Police Officer Daniel Boyle. Sarmina ruled on Jan. 10, 2013 that Bracey could not be put to death because of a 2002 Supreme Court ruling that it is illegal to execute anyone who is deemed mentally retarded.
“Three weeks from today, it will be 23 years since Officer Danny Boyle was murdered by Edward Bracey on Feb. 4, 1991,” said First Assistant Edward McCann. “Ironically, the trial of Bracey started almost a year to the day of Officer Boyle’s murder, and the jury’s death sentence was handed down on March 4, 1992. In the nearly 22 years since that date, the defendant has attacked his sentence in a variety of ways. None of these challenges deal with the strength of the evidence – the evidence of defendant’s guilt is undeniable. No court has found that the trial was unfair, or that he was the victim of any misconduct by the prosecution or the police.”
McCann said that during proceeding held in 1998 the defendant presented three experts that all testified that he was not mentally retarded. One testified that defendant’s IQ score was “five points higher than one would need to get to actually be classified as mentally retarded.” A second flatly said “defendant is not mentally retarded.” A third said that defendant’s IQ score was in the borderline range rather than the mentally retarded range and that he read at the tenth grade level, the point when he stopped attending school. The judge dismissed Bracey’s petition as meritless.
“Here we sit, in Jan. of 2014, a full generation after the murder of Boyle and a court has ruled he is mentally retarded and not eligible to be executed. We do not have the benefit of Judge Sarmina’s opinion, so I cannot say for certain what the basis is for her ruling. However, I can say this for certain. The victim’s family; who have done nothing but serve this city with strength and character, both before and after Danny’s death, have questions about a process that can lead to a result like this, and I for one have no answers. Because I have the same question about how a jury’s verdict, having been ratified by multiple layers of review, can be undone 22 years after it was rendered on a claim that is frankly inconsistent with the evidence this same defendant produced in 1998.”
Reward Offered for Slain Cop’s Killer
A $40,000 reward was announced this week for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who shot and killed a Philadelphia police officer more than forty years ago. It remains the only unsolved murder of a police officer in the city.
On Jan. 30, 1970, Officer Frederick Cione was fatally shot while patrolling on the 1700 block of West Oxford St. in North Philadelphia. The 25-year old officer, who had served in Vietnam, was on the job for just one year, working in what was then the 23rd District.
According to investigators, Cione was shot and killed as he approached three male suspects. A witness reported that Cione got out of his patrol car and approached the suspects along the 1700 block of West Oxford Street shortly after 1:00 p.m. One of them pulled a .22 pistol and fired three shots, one in the chest, one in the abdomen and one hitting and lodging in Cione’s gun belt.
The suspects have ever been identified.
Anyone with information regarding the murder of Officer Frederick Cione should contact the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334 /3335.
Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson held a press conference late Tuesday afternoon to speak about escalating violence in his district.
Johnson said he was responding to numerous requests from residents of the 2nd Council District. Johnson and a group of law enforcement officers and community leaders gathered at the Vare Recreation Center at 26th and Morris streets to talk about the problem of violence in Grays Ferry, and followed up the meeting with a safety walk — touring the locations of the shootings in the violence-plagued community.
“I’m here standing with members of the South Philadelphia community calling for a cease-fire and an end to the senseless violence taking place in our neighborhoods; specifically in Grays Ferry and Point Breeze,” Johnson said. “I stand here today with members of the community to call on those young men who are engaged in gun violence and neighborhood turf wars. Over the last several weeks they’ve been running through the streets of Grays Ferry carrying guns, pointing them at one another, at police officers and most recently the murder of a young man in these streets.”
According to law enforcement officials, on Monday, Jan. 13, Philadelphia police officers were forced to fire their weapons at a teenager who was armed with a rifle and pointed it at the officers after being ordered to drop the firearm. The incident happened in the 1600 block of South Corlies Street just after 4:00 p.m. Investigators reported that a detective and an officer with the state Attorney General’s Office were in the vicinity to serve a warrant. They observed a 16-year old boy walking down the street carrying a rifle.
The suspect was ordered to drop the weapon; instead the teen pointed the gun at the officers and one of them opened fired. He missed the teen, who dropped the rifle and fled the scene. About 45 minutes later the boy was arrested in the vicinity of 26th and Dickinson Streets. There was a minor traffic accident during the pursuit of the suspect, whose name has not been released yet.
“As an elected official and a resident of South Philadelphia, I get a little apprehensive as to how to address this issue,” said Johnson. “I’ve spoken with Captain Martin Derbyshire of the 17th District and other elected officials, including District Attorney Seth Williams to see how we can bring a level of calm and peace in this community. The community leaders standing with me and residents of these neighborhoods would text me in the middle of the night saying the young men who are shooting up this community must put their guns down. The young men who are terrorizing this community must stop and we’re going to work very closely with law enforcement to stop it. We’re looking at comprehensive long-term solutions. But this isn’t a problem just for law enforcement; we have to come together as a community. I was asked to organize this press conference; this is not a political stunt or an effort to get some press. The community asked me to do this.”
On Jan. 9 a 19-year-old Black male was killed by two still unidentified gunmen in the vicinity of the 1600 block of Bailey Street. Investigators said the incident happened just after 5:00 p.m. and the victim was shot multiple times. Officers from the 17 District rushed to the scene and when they arrived they found the victim suffering from a gunshot wound to this right thigh and shoulder. He was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where he was pronounced dead at 5:33 p.m. He was later identified as Montrell Freemann Jr., of the 1100 block of South 26th Street. As of Tribune press time no arrests have been made and the motive hasn’t been determined.
“I understand the community’s concerns, but briefly, I would like to report on our successes in these neighborhoods,” said Captain Derbyshire, commander of the 17th Police District. “Specifically talking about gun violence, we did reduce shootings and shooting victims, which I’m sure you heard about on the news. We know we have a lot of work to do and there are pockets in this district where the numbers did not go down. More importantly we specifically know who the individuals are and the different group are who are causing the violence. We know exactly who they are; we see their names again and again. Our officers know them by face, their names and who their friends are. We know the cars they drive and where they hang out. We have a gang task force that was formed in 2013 for this district and it is still operating in 2014 and it was very effective. There are good kids in this district and we’re putting our energy on the ones who are causing the problem. We have a program here called Focused Deterrence which has performed very well.”
Derbyshire said the way Focused Deterrence works is that law enforcement officials confront the young men most likely to cause gun violence. The investigators explain exactly what is going to happen if they break the law and that they know precisely what they’re involved in. More important, the young men are provided with a way out of their situations through social services, education and job training.
“We know some of these guys want to get out of the street life and some have taken advantage of this; others haven’t,” Derbyshire said. “We’re stopping their cars and we’re locking them up. We’ve confiscated several guns in the last 48 hours. But all of the law enforcement isn’t going to be effective without the community backing us up. Even if you get a tip that something is about to happen we need to know so we can deploy our officers.”