By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A federal civil jury in Philadelphia reached a verdict this afternoon on whether the City of Philadelphia should be held liable for the 2009 murder of a Port Richmond man by his police officer neighbor.
The jury today ruled that the city is not financially liable for the murder or civil rights violations against William Panas Jr., killed by off-duty officer Frank Tepper in 2009.
It is a mixed verdict but a hollow victory for the Panas family. The jury found Tepper liable for violating the civil rights of Panas and has ordered payment of more than $4.7 million in damages.
But it’s not clear how much money Tepper has, or how much money the Panas family might eventually be able to get. Tepper is currently serving a life sentence for the murder.
Regarding the City of Philadelphia, the jury found that there was a “pattern of indifference” in the police department to the ongoing misconduct of Frank Tepper over a period of decades beginning in the 1990s.
But this is the critical point: the jury found that the city’s “indifference” was not the cause for the murder of Billy Panas. As a result, the jury has ordered no damages to be paid by the City of Philadelphia.
Tepper, who was named as defendant in this suit, had declined to participate in it.