A Philadelphia judge has dismissed all charges in the murder case against former police officer Ryan Pownall
A Philadelphia judge on Tuesday dismissed all charges against former city police officer Ryan Pownall, ruling that years ago prosecutors failed to provide sufficient legal instructions to a grand jury when that he was weighing whether or not to charge Pownall with murder in a 2017 on-duty shooting.
Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara A. McDermott said there was ‘so much wrong’ with how the district attorney’s office instructed grand jurors before They don’t approve of a submission recommending murder charges in the landmark case.
In particular, McDermott told a preliminary hearing that prosecutors failed to provide the panel with information about how and when officers were legally justified in firing their weapons. “How could the grand jury do [its] work without knowing it? she asked.
She chastised prosecutors for what she saw as a series of other errors, saying that if a defense attorney had behaved the same way before her, “I would declare them incompetent.”
She then called for all charges to be dismissed, saying, “You can’t rely on the presentation”, which she called “not good”.
The decision was a scathing rebuke to District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office, which has long sought to underscore its commitment to prosecuting police wrongdoing. Pownall, at the time he was charged, was the first city officer to face a murder trial for an on-duty shooting in two decades.
Prosecutors declined to comment as they left the courthouse. They can appeal McDermott’s decision or bring new charges against Pownall, who was due to stand trial next month.
Jane Roh, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said in a statement, “The district attorney’s office strongly disagrees on many levels with the court’s decision today in this case, and will consider our options in the coming months. days.”
Pownall walked out of the courtroom with a crowd of supporters, although he declined to comment on the case. His lawyers – Fortunato Perri Jr., Brian McMonagle and Charles Gibbs – called the accusation a “travesty of justice” and said Krasner’s office manipulated a grand jury without regard to the facts or the law.
Pownall had been charged with crimes including third-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 30-year-old David Jones in North Philadelphia in 2017. Pownall had arrested Jones for riding an illegal dirt bike. When Pownall searched him and smelled a gun, police say the two fought, but Jones broke free and fled and Pownall opened fire.
Krasner’s office said the murder charges were justified because Jones dropped the gun when Pownall shot him in the back.
Pownall, through his attorneys, had argued that the shooting was legally justified.
This is a developing story that will be updated.