This is a topic we've visited before -- and will no doubt visit again in the future.
Just a day after Sgt. Timmy Simpson was laid to rest, FOP and police officials found out that a suspect who took aim at another police officer is already back on the streets:
Amado Lopez aimed a .40-caliber gun at Officer Sean McGinnis in West Kensington Saturday night and ended up taking a bullet to the arm for his brazen act, police said.
Today he walked out of jail.
Members of the police community — still reeling from the death of Sgt. Timmy Simpson on Nov. 17 — were outraged when they learned that Lopez, 20, needed to pony up only $800 to get back on the streets.
Union officials directed their ire at bail commissioner Abraham Polokoff, who set Lopez’s bail at $8,000.
It’s mind-boggling,” said FOP vice president John McGrody. “Here’s an individual who tried to use a firearm against a Philadelphia police officer, and someone in our judicial system gave him a get-out-of-jail-free card.”
Chris Werner, the commander of the 25th District, where McGinnis works, sounded off as well.
“It’s disgraceful,” Werner said of Lopez’s perceived low bail.
“Is he [Polokoff] protecting the city of Philadelphia with decisions like this?”
Polokoff could not be reached for comment.
Police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore said McGinnis responded to a radio call at about 8:40 p.m. Saturday for a man with a gun near 5th and Somerset streets.
When McGinnis arrived at the scene, he chased after Lopez, who fit the description of the man with the gun.
During the chase, Lopez turned and pointed the gun at McGinnis, Vanore said. McGinnis fired once, striking Lopez in the right arm. Lopez was treated at Temple University Hospital and later released into police custody.
Lopez was arrested in June 2007 on charges that included attempted murder and aggravated assault, according to court records. Those charges were withdrawn in February. Records show Lopez, of Lawrence Street near Somerset, has been arrested in the past on drug charges as well.
“He’s not someone we want out on the streets,” Vanore said. “He poses a harm to police and civilians.”
The outcry over the bail Lopez received comes at a particularly difficult time for the Police Department.
Six officers have died in the line of duty since 2006. When Sgt. Patrick McDonald was shot to death in North Philadelphia on Sept. 23 by convicted felon Daniel Giddings, FOP leaders vowed to turn up the heat on members of the judicial system they deemed too lax on violent criminals.
A month ago, Gov. Rendell signed into law a bill that mandates a minimum 20-year sentence for anyone who shoots at a law enforcement officer.
“We do know that four times in the last year, police officers have lost their lives because of people who should not have been out on the street,” McGrody said.
“In light of that, on the same week we buried another police officer, we’re shocked to see a judicial authority making it so easy for someone like this to get out again.”
Lopez will have preliminary hearing Dec. 1 at the 25th District’s headquarters on Whitaker Avenue near Erie. He’ll face charges of aggravated assault, carry firearms in public, recklessly endangering another person and related offenses from Saturday’s incident.