Outgoing District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who has often been accused of being soft on cop crime, declined to press criminal charges against Philadelphia Police Officer Frank Tepper who was fired this week for shooting to death William “Billy” Panas Jr. in Port Richmond on Nov. 21. The victim was unarmed. Eyewitnesses claimed an irate and intoxicated Tepper shot the unarmed Panas Jr. in the chest when the two men exchanged words after a neighborhood brawl. A grand jury is currently investigating. In her final act as D.A. Abraham also declined to press charges in the death of Lawrence Allen who died last February, three months after off duty Philadelphia Police Officer Chauncey Ellison allegedly shot him in the back during a bizarre dispute in West Oak Lane. Allen, 20, was left paralyzed from the chest down. Officer Chauncey remains on the force. Meanwhile, Abraham, after nearly 20 years as the city’s top prosecutor, will become a partner at the private law firm of Archer & Greiner, where she will no doubt make ‘mad bank.’ And we all lived happily ever after.
PREVIOUSLY: William J. Barnes shot and partly paralyzed a Philadelphia police officer in 1966, and he served 20 years for it and related offenses. But last month, 41 years after the shooting, the district attorney filed new charges of murder after the officer, Walter T. Barclay Jr., died of an infection she says stems from the shooting. Mr. Barnes, now 71, was sent back to prison. “The law is that when you set in motion a chain of events,” District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham said, “a perpetrator of a crime is responsible for every single thing that flows from that chain of events, no matter how distant, as long as we can prove the chain is unbroken.” She plans to prove that the bullet that lodged near Mr. Barclay’s spine in 1966 led to the urinary tract infection that led to his death last month. The case has drawn national attention as most legal experts say they have never seen an attempt to stretch causation medically across four decades, and some say they worry about the precedent the case could set concerning double jeopardy. MORE
ATTYTOOD: The Taser X26 is…Torture Tested, Torture Approved!
TASER electronic stun guns are a form of torture that can kill, a UN committee has declared after several recent deaths in North America.
“The use of these weapons causes acute pain, constituting a form of torture,” the UN’s Committee against Torture said.
“In certain cases, they can even cause death, as has been shown by reliable studies and recent real-life events,” the committee of 10 experts said.
And so now the cash-strapped city is spending on the order of a million bucks or so to bring them to the streets of Philadelphia! This means that after blogging frequently about torture over the last five years, it’s now a local issue. That’s whacked — the thing next you’ll be telling me is that the Inquirer is hiring John Yoo for its op-ed page…oh yeah, right. Anyway, here’s the actual news — notice the irony here that Obama-backed stimulus dollars (get it, “stimulus”!) may have paid for the purchase. MORE
BBC: The US state of Pennsylvania will vote on whether to ban the practice of shackling female prisoners who are giving birth. The practice, which has been banned in six other states, is supposed to prevent prisoners trying to escape, but campaigners say it is both unnecessary and inhumane. MORE
PHILADELPHIA NOW: Currently, the Commonwealth allows pregnant prisoners to be shackled during transport to the hospital, and while in labor, delivery and recovery. The new measure will mandate that when a “female prisoner is brought to a hospital from any Department of Corrections facility or county jail for the purpose of delivering her baby, no restraints of any kind shall be used during transport, except that where the officer in charge of the institution has determined and documented that such woman presents a substantial flight risk, such woman may be handcuffed. Under no circumstances shall restraints of any kind be used on any pregnant woman while she is in the hospital awaiting birth, during labor or in recovery after giving birth.” MORE