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Civil Suit Seeks To Hold City Responsible For Murder Committed By Phila. Police Officer

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Hanson_Tony--NEW Tony Hanson
Tony Hanson has spent his entire illustrious career at KYW Newsradio,...
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By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Trial resumes this morning in a federal civil case which seeks to hold the city of Philadelphia liable for a murder committed by a police officer in Port Richmond in 2009. The suit seeks millions in damages.

But, the city contends the officer was off-duty when he intervened in a dispute outside his home and shot 21-year-old Billy Panas. Former officer Frank Tepper is now serving a life sentence for the murder.

Attorney James Binns, representing the Panas family, says Frank Tepper identified himself as a police officer and showed his badge before shooting Billy Panas. And Binns has told the jury Tepper had a documented history of on- and off-duty misconduct, including attacks on children. Binns says Tepper once aimed a gun at a 10-year-old who woke him by bouncing a basketball at the playground outside his house.

“We are going to present to you facts which will enable you to draw the conclusion that basically police officer Tepper was a bully,” says Binns. “He was someone who never should have been a police officer. Never should have worn a badge. Never should have worn a uniform.”

But city attorney Armando Brigandi has told the jury Tepper is solely responsible for the murder.

“Frank Tepper on November 21st, 2009, was not acting as a police officer. He was off-duty, he was drunk, he took his own gun and shot, senselessly, without reason, shot Billy Panas.”

And Brigandi contends the claim the city is responsible because it didn’t fire Tepper for earlier misconduct doesn’t hold up.

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