Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey today gave walking papers to two Philadelphia police officers who were involved in an off-duty shooting in West Oak Lane in 2008, the Daily News has learned.
Sgt. Chauncey Ellison and Officer Robin Fortune were both suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss, Ramsey said. Neighborhood residents said Ellison and Fortune were both involved in a dispute on Nov. 17, 2008 that ended with with Lawrence Allen, 20, being shot in the back and paralyzed on Renovo Street near 20th. Allen died three months later after battling numerous infections and illnesses.
The bizarre case started to unfold that night when Ellison's 14-year-old son was robbed and assaulted in West Oak Lane. Witnesses said Ellison chased a potential suspect to Renovo, where he enountered a group of people, including Allen, who lived on the block.
Witnesses claimed Ellison and Allen exchanged words, and that Fortune encouraged Ellison to take action until the off-duty sergeant shot Allen in the back.
Ramsey said Ellison and Fortune were filed for departmental violations that occurred before the shooting and after -- namely, getting involved in a personal confrontation without calling 9-1-1, leaving the scene of the shooting and endangering the welfare of Ellison's son and Fortune's daughter, both of whom were with the off-duty cops.
Ramsey said the decision to fire Ellison and Fortune was "not something that I take pleasure in," but ultimately the right thing to do in light of the Internal Affairs investigation into the incident. He added that Ellison was not fired for firearms violations because a witness told police that Allen was armed. A weapon, however, was never found.
The commisioner said it's unclear if District Attorney Seth Williams will file criminal charges against Ellison and Fortune. The Daily News first reported last month that former D.A. Lynne Abraham had decided just before she left office to not press charges against Ellison. Abraham never publicly announced her decision, nor did she inform Allen's family.
In a recent interview with the Daily News, Abraham contended that she wasn't required to hold a press conference every time she made a decision. She added that she based her decision on the facts of the case, but declined to discuss the case further.
Allen's mother, Terry Bowen, said she was "thrilled" when she was informed of the cops' firings by Ramsey earlier today. Bowen recently complained that she felt like her son's case was being ignored by authorities, while other controversial cases -- most notably, the firing and subsequent arrest of off-duty cop Frank Tepper, who fatally shot an unarmed man in Port Richmond in November -- were being resolved.
Monday marks the one year anniversary of Allen's death. His mother had been planning to hold a rally in his memory and to call for Ellison's firing. Now, she said, she's just "waiting for Mr. Seth Williams to do what he has to do."
John McNesby, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said he was upset that his office wasn't afforded a chance to review the Internal Affairs investigation before Ramsey stripped Ellison and Fortune of their badges. "We didn't even know there was a female officer involved," he said. "We find out about it from the Daily News and Inquirer."