PHILADELPHIA — Civil rights activists and clergy marched through Philadelphia on Friday to demand a broader investigation of the fatal police shooting of a black man last month amid conflicting accounts of the killing.
The killing of David Jones, a 30-year-old who was shot in the back after being stopped by an officer for driving a dirt bike recklessly on a city street and allegedly pulling a gun on a policeman, has garnered renewed attention after a man who claims to have witnessed the incident has publicly disputed the police account of the shooting.
The activists said Officer Ryan Pownall chose to shoot first and ask questions later during their march from police headquarters to the district attorney’s office to City Hall. They read off a list of demands that included police cars be outfitted with dashboard cameras, quarterly meetings to discuss policing tactics, as well as a more in-depth investigation into whether the officer should be charged for the shooting.
“David Jones did not deserve to die,” Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, said of the June 8 killing. “You should not die for riding a dirt bike illegally in the city of Philadelphia.”
A spokesman for the district attorney said that the office is “thoroughly and independently investigation the case.” Police commissioner Richard Ross has said the fact Jones was apparently shot from behind is something police “want to look at very closely.”
Police have said that Jones was killed after he removed a handgun from his waistband and then attempted to flee following a struggle with Pownall. But a man who said he witnessed the shooting, and who took part in the march, said Jones never brandished the weapon.
The man, who has given multiple interviews to news media, hasn’t disclosed his full name, he said, for fear of repercussions for speaking out about the case. He said the officer first attempted to subdue Jones with a Taser, but when he did not fall to the ground Pownall fatally shot him three times.