By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Lawyers representing the estate of a man who was shot and killed one year ago today by police in North Philadelphia have announced the filing of a lawsuit against the Philadelphia Police Department.
The man’s family and the NAACP are calling for a federal investigation into the department’s use of deadly force against unarmed civilians.
“Over 50 shots were fired,” notes Philadelphia attorney Paul Hetznecker, who says 24-year-old Jamil Moses was an unarmed passenger in a stolen Chevy Impala that was stopped by police near the corner of 23rd and Susquehanna last year.
Hetznecker says police boxed in the car, then drew their guns, shooting driver Frederick Bell 12 times and killing Moses.
“Police acted far beyond the scope of their authority and their power,” Hetznecker claims. “They used excessive force in a situation where it was a car stop with two unarmed individuals. This should never have been the result.”
Both Bell and Moses are said to have lengthy rap sheets, a fact that Hetznecker says is irrelevant to their case:
“I have a tremendous concern with police essentially trying to justify their actions after the fact by claiming that the lengthy police record somehow devalues the life of Jamil Moses. I think that is a pretty outrageous position to take.”
Jerry Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP, says police efforts to thwart crime has led to serious abuses.
“We’re going to file a formal request with the US attorney to ask for a full federal investigation into the killing of Mr. Moses, as well as several of the other shootings that have resulted in death,” Mondesire said today.
Moses’ mother says her son, a father of three, will be sorely missed.
“He had a big heart and he loved his family,” Carolyn Moses said with tears in her eyes. “My heart is broke.”
A Philadelphia police spokesman declined to comment on the case in light of the pending litigation.