By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Nicetown neighborhood is in mourning as family members prepare to bury a man that neighbors say died at the hands of Philadelphia police last Saturday after being put in a choke-hold by officers.
In the meantime, the investigation continues.
“Homicide, ultimately, has the lead on the investigation,” says Lt. John Stanford, spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department.
He says officers observed 46-year-old Sean Broaddus allegedly selling marijuana near 15th and Bristol Streets. Police struggled to arrest Broaddus, who was unresponsive once handcuffed. He was later pronounced dead.
“It’s an unfortunate situation anytime anyone loses their life,” Stanford said. He could not confirm whether police found any drugs on Broaddus, who has a rap sheet that included theft and drug charges.
But the family claims Broaddus was unarmed and police put him in a choke-hold that ultimately killed him.
“All I heard was people saying, ‘murderers,’ ” notes Sheila Shoemake, who lives just a few feet from where Broaddus — called “Blue” by those who know him — died. She says he’d brought her hamburgers earlier that day from a barbecue hosted by Deborah’s Hair Salon, where his wife, Margo, works.
Shoemake says she met Broaddus and his wife about a year ago, calling him “a good man.”
“I have an autistic son,” Shoemake added. “(Broaddus) helped me with my son all the time. I was just stunned to see him laying on the ground like that.”
Greg Griffin, who grew up nearby, says Broaddus mentored many young men in the neighborhood.
“He was an uncle to all of us, up and down these blocks,” Griffin recalled today. “He kept us out of trouble anytime he saw us. He had some ugly history, but through the years he became a better person.”
Broaddus’ wife and family declined to speak to KYW Newsradio on tape, but said they plan to bury Broaddus this weekend. And, they said, they hope for justice.