Penn. Supreme Court Considers if Law Means Police Can Use Deadly Force Anytime A Suspect Flees Arrest

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Considers Police Use of Deadly Force

Philadelphia’s District Attorney is challenging Pennsylvania’s use-of-force law in a case that could make it harder for law enforcement across the state to use deadly force.

According to the Associated Press, former Philadelphia cop Ryan Pownall shot and killed David Jones, a 30-year-old unarmed man.  Jones was stopped for riding a dirt bike on the sidewalk and shot when he tried to flee.  The case has moved to the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court which will consider the constitutionality of a Pennsylvania law that allows officers to use deadly force to prevent someone from escaping arrest.

RELATED: 19-Year-Old Was Shot in the Back While Fleeing Colorado Cops 

Pownall had 15 misconduct complaints lodged against him over five years. He is also the only Philadelphia officer in almost 20 years to be charged with homicide while on duty after a 1999 shooting.

The AP reports the case comes down to federal law versus Pennsylvania law, with prosecutors arguing that federal standards should take precedence over the Pennsylvania law.

The Pennsylvania law states that police officers attempting to arrest someone may use deadly force in order to prevent death or serious injury to themselves or others. They are permitted to use deadly force if they believe it’s needed to prevent a suspect from avoiding arrest or escaping, while at the same time believing the suspect committed or tried to commit an escape or “forcible felony” and has indicated they have a deadly weapon.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner argued the Pennsylvania law on police use of deadly force violates a federal legal standard that such force against a fleeing suspect can only be used when reasonably needed to prevent imminent serious injury or death.

RELATED: Officer Who Killed Antwon Rose Found Not Guilty 

The state's use-of-force law for police was a major reason why a jury acquitted former East Pittsburgh Officer Michael Rosfeld in 2019 in the shooting death of 17-year-old high schooler, Antwon Rose, II. Rose was a passenger in a stolen car. When stopped, Rose exited the car and ran.  Rosfeld shot the unarmed boy in the back, arm and side of his face. Rosfeld’s attorney argued that the Pennsylvania law permitted the former officer to fire on the boy.

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