Philadelphia Cop Shoots Unarmed Man Asking for Change, Claiming he saw Gun

Christie Ileto on Twitter
Christie Ileto on Twitter

“Niece of shooting victim says her uncle is mentally challenged and was begging for quarters when the @PhillyPolice officer shot him. According to detectives, the shooting victim approached the officer in an unmarked car. The officer thought he had a gun and shot him. @6abc”

Carlos Miller

The incident was captured on surveillance video which has not been released.

A Philadelphia police detective shot an unarmed panhandler after the man asked him for some change.

The panhandler, Joel Johnson, 28, is known to residents in the area as being harmless. His family said he has special needs.

But the detective claimed he saw a gun. Witnesses say it was only his extended hand asking for change as he always does.

The detective was driving an unmarked police car Monday evening and had pulled up to a stop light when a man walked up to the drivers side asking for change, which made the detective fear for his life.

."A lot of people say he just made a hand gesture for change like he always does," his brother told ABC 6. "The officer was on his phone and when he looked up he got startled, he got nervous, and started shooting through the window."

The incident was captured on surveillance video that police say they are reviewing.

According to CBS Local in Philadelphia:

According to police, the plainclothes detective had just left the scene of another incident and was stopped at a red light in an unmarked vehicle, when a 28-year-old special needs man emerged from between two parked cars on the officer’s driver side.

Police say the man approached the unmarked police car, asking for change. The family identified the man as Joel Johnson.

The officer believed Johnson was speaking to him, but he could not hear what was being said, police say. According to authorities, the officer believed he saw a firearm in the man’s hand, at which time, the officer shot three times, shattering the car’s window and striking Johnson once in the torso.

“The detective believed what he saw was a firearm in this male’s hand,” Capt. Sekou Kinebrew said. “The detective, believing he was going to be robbed or something was going to happen to him, produced his firearm.”

The detective, whose name has not year been released, is a seven-year veteran on the force and has been placed on administrative leave.

The victim was listed in critical but stable condition.


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