Friday, July 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Verdict Day on Almond and Schiller Streets, where a police officer was slain

Around 1:30 p.m., Dicksy Widing stood on her front steps, with a photo of Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski taped to her front window, as a neighbor in a blue sedan slowed down and yelled out the window like a town crier.

Verdict Day on Almond and Schiller Streets, where a police officer was slain

Around 1:30 p.m., Dicksy Widing stood on her front steps, with a photo of Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski taped to her front window, as a neighbor in a blue sedan slowed down and yelled out the window like a town crier.

For neighbors on Port Richmond's Almond and Schiller Streets, the intersection where officer Liczbinski was shot and killed two years ago, today was verdict day.

"Guilty of all charges," the man in the sedan yelled.

"Thank God, thank God," Widing, 64, rejoiced, clasping her hands.

Friend and neighbor Linda Couch, who had stopped by to learn the verdict was also overjoyed. "Oh God, I’m so happy," Couch said. "Now this man can rest in peace."

After about eight hours of deliberations, which started Monday, a jury found defendants Eric DeShann Floyd and Levon T. Warner guilty of first-degree murder in the May 2008 shooting of Liczbinski.

The day of the shooting, Widing had been outside planting flowers when she heard Liczbinski’s siren.

Moments later, gunman Howard Cain, who was later killed by police, "got out and he shot him," Widing recalled. "I just hollered..."

The trio, Cain, Floyd and Warner, had just robbed a bank branch inside a supermarket, and fled through the neighborhood in a stolen car, with Liczbinski in pursuit.

After Liczbinski was shot, the 12-year police veteran, and married father of three, fell across the street from Widing’s red-bricked row house. He had severe gunshot wounds to his chest and stomach.

As word of the guilty verdict circulated, the tidy, blue collar neighborhood was quiet, almost reflective. The news surprised no one.

"It was just," said 50-year-old Schiller Street homeowner Brian Czarnik. "They took part in a crime, they were going to profit from the crime, and now they got to pay the price."

Still, neighbors remained anxious, especially those who were witnesses, who rushed to the officer's aid in the grizzly aftermath. They await the punishment, to know whether the two men convicted will face death by lethal injection or life in prison without parole.

"I don’t want to spend my tax dollars feeding them," said Pamela Krajewski, 48, sitting on her porch with her two small dogs. That fateful day, after her husband and son heard the shots, they ran out of the house with towels and put pressure on the fallen officer’s wounds.

"They not only terrorized that family by taking their loved one," said Krajewski, who works as a hairdresser, "they terrorized this entire community."

Across from her home, neighbors maintained a memorial, an offering of teddy bears, candles, flowers, and homemade cards, under a protective blue tarp. They added Santa Clauses at Christmas, and crosses during Easter.

In May, it was replaced with a respectful bronze plaque in memory of Liczbinski, "who died in the line of duty protecting the citizens of Philadelphia."

"I hope they never see the light of day again," said Widing, as she and her neighbors await the cop killers' fate. "They don’t deserve to. They took an officer, and a man away from his family."

About this blog

Kia Gregory is a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. She's a proud native of the city and an alumna of Temple University. Contact Kia by e-mail by clicking here, or by phone at 215-854-2601.


Vernon Clark, a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, has reported extensively neighborhood issues in North and Northwest Philadelphia. Vernon has also been an editor for the Inquirer and has worked as an editor and writer at the Boston Globe and Akron Beacon Journal. Contact Vernon by e-mail by clicking here, or by phone at 215-854-5717.

Kia Gregory & Vernon Clark
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