PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The family of a Philadelphia chef says police shot and killed him while he was doing one of the most mundane traditions of city life, looking for a parking spot. They have filed a wrongful death federal lawsuit against the city and three police officers, and the officer who discharged his weapon is on desk duty, for now.
The night in question, May 4, 2016, someone called 911, saying they thought that a driver was acting “suspiciously” casing the neighborhood near 63rd Street and Overbrook Avenue. But lawyers representing 52-year-old Richard Ferretti’s family say he was only driving his minivan around the block looking for a parking space, when confronted by police.
Attorney Ken Rothweiler says one neighbor heard police yell “freeze, stop!.” Another neighbor, while in her home, heard Ferretti respond while behind the wheel of his vehicle.
“Richard Ferretti was yelling this, ‘I’m stopping, I’m stopping,’ followed by pow, pow, pow, pow, which were gunshots by the police,” she said.
Rothweiler says responding officers, including the officer who discharged his weapon (Shannon Coolbaugh), violated Ferritti’s Constitutional rights and the department’s own policies.
He contends deadly force was not needed to protect a life or make an arrest “under any objectively reasonable standard.”
“This was police coming on the scene that I think were ill-trained and overreactive,” he said. “They completely violated that policy, when they shot into that vehicle, killing my client, Richard Ferretti.”
Ferretti was unarmed, and was not wanted by police.
Lawyers representing his family are pressing the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office for answers, including whether a Grand Jury came up with anything, interviews with witnesses and any nearby surveillance video.
Police Commissioner Richard Ross says he’s “concerned” about the tactics that police used in this incident.
“It’s not a suggestion. You shall not shoot at a moving vehicle, unless that occupants of that vehicle pose an additional threat,” he said. “By that, we mean typically, if the occupants are firing a weapon at you.”
The Ferritti case falls under the old police involved shooting policy – the department cannot interview the officer until the District Attorney’s office determines whether to bring criminal charges.
A spokesman for the DA declined to comment on the case.
The new policy allows the department to do an administrative interview within 72-hours of an incident.
The officer who discharged his weapon is working administrative duties, and is not working the street.
A statement from Mayor Kenney reads “both Commissioner Ross and I are very concerned by the officers’ action, and we’re incredibly sorry for this family’s loss.”