Police fatally shoot armed man in North Philadelphia

Authorities on Friday were continuing to probe a police-involved shooting in North Philadelphia in which an officer apparently struggled with an armed motorbike rider and then shot the man as he was running.

The encounter unfolded about 6:40 p.m. Thursday on Whitaker Avenue near Hunting Park Avenue, when a 15th Police District officer who was transporting two witnesses to the nearby headquarters of the Special Victims Unit spotted someone operating a motorbike recklessly, said Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

The motorbike stalled and the officer pulled up next to it and attempted to speak with its operator, who began backing away. The officer exited his patrol car to conduct a frisk and felt a handgun in the male’s waistband. The officer ordered the man, who began holding the front of his waistband, several times not to reach for the gun but he did so anyway, officials said.

A struggle then ensued between the two, police said.

In a statement released Friday, police said the officer pulled the trigger of his service weapon, but it initially did not fire.

After the officer cleared the stoppage, he fired at the man, who was running south on Whitaker Avenue, police said. Ross had said Thursday night that part of the encounter was caught on surveillance video, showing the male running away when he was struck by one of the bullets.

Ross said the video footage of the man getting shot while running away “gives me pause.”

The man, whose name has not been released, was hit in his back and buttocks. He was taken to Temple University Hospital and pronounced dead at 6:59 p.m.

Authorities have not yet identified the officer involved in the shooting.

Ross said the two witnesses in the police vehicle heard the officer order the man not to draw his gun and saw him do it anyway.

The gun, a loaded 9mm handgun, and the motorbike were taken for evidence.

Under departmental policy, the officer was placed on administrative duty pending the results of an internal investigation.

Thursday’s shooting marks the second time in the past month a Philadelphia officer has shot and killed a suspect who authorities said ignored demands regarding a weapon. It was the city’s fourth officer-involved shooting in 2017, according to department statistics. In this year’s other police-involved shootings in Philadelphia:

  • A man who lunged at officers with a knife — even after being tased — was fatally shot in May in Kingsessing.
  • A 28-year-old man died in March after he was shot by officers in Philadelphia — where he ran over an officer in Kingsessing — and in New Castle County, Del., where he fled following the initial incident and got into a struggle with another officer.
  • A 22-year-old man was shot by police in February after pointing a gun at officers in West Oak Lane. That man was wounded but survived.

In 2016, Philadelphia officers shot 14 people, five fatally.

Any witnesses to Thursday’s officer-involved shooting can call the investigators at 215-683-1866 or -1867, Ross said.

Staff writer Emily Babay contributed to this report.