Philadelphia police officials have expressed “serious concerns” about a fatal officer-involved shooting that took the life of a 36-year-old man on Monday.
Authorities say they’re investigating after Jeffrey Dennis was gunned down during a violent confrontation with officers as they attempted to serve a search warrant. According to local station ABC 6, police have obtained surveillance footage of the deadly encounter as part of their investigation into whether proper procedures were followed.
“It was a volatile situation, but quite frankly we have some serious concerns about it,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.
Gunfire erupted after officers allege Dennis hit an unnamed officer with his black Toyota Camry as police pursued him near Hegerman Street and Princeton Avenue in the Tacony area of the city. Six undercover narcotics officers surrounded his car and ordered him to get out, but Dennis instead rammed their unmarked cars in an attempt to flee the scene.
That’s when one of the cops fired three shots, killing the father of three after he’d struck another officer with his car. That officer has since been placed on administrative leave, according to the department.
“I’ll just say that right now, we’re looking very closely at this, probably more so than you think we are,” Ross said.
Critics have offered conflicting accounts of the incident however, claiming Dennis never became violent with police.
“You have no idea what the Philadelphia Police just did to this man’s family,” writer and activist Shaun King tweeted. “They stole a father and son and brother and lover away from a beautiful family … He was shot in the head. Didn’t run. Nothing. No risk.”
Outraged locals are now planning a vigil to remember Dennis, who was recently engaged and worked as a maintenance employee for the Tastykake bakery company. The rally and march are set to begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the corner of Hegerman and Princeton, said Asa Khalif, head of the Coalition for Black Lives of Philadelphia.
Speaking to The Philadelphia Tribune, Khalif argued the 15th Police District, from which the officer is from, has a history of shooting people and cited the fatal shootings of David Tate Brown and David Jones.
“I told everyone in the city that the 15th Police District will shoot and kill again,” Khalif told the station via Facebook live chat. “You dismissed it. You said I was being anti-cop and that I was in my feelings — But the 15th District has a history of abusing Black and brown and poor people in that section of the city.”
Lee Merritt, the civil rights attorney representing Dennis’ family, called the young father’s death the latest in “a pattern of an unarmed Black male in a situation that could’ve easily been de-escalated.” He added that Dennis has no prior criminal convictions.
“Drugs and guns were found at an address associated with him, but there’s been no testimony, no evidence, no statements what so ever that a weapon or drugs were found on his person,” the attorney said.
The District Attorney’s office is now assisting police in their investigation of the incident, ABC 6 reported. It’s the third fatal police shooting in just three weeks.
“We’ve got to take a close look at what we did, our strategies, more importantly, our tactics and whether or not we could’ve done something differently,” Ross said. “That’s our responsibility.”
Watch more in the clip below.