PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — CBS3 has obtained surveillance video of a police-involved shooting in Kensington. A police officer in plainclothes shot a man who is now fighting for his life. The victim is in critical but stable condition at Temple University Hospital.
Surveillance video captured the moment police say a detective in an unmarked car shot an unarmed man around 9 p.m. on Monday.
In the video, you see the man walk down G Street, near Tioga Street, in Kensington. It then shows a blast of smoke with the victim lying on the ground.
He gets back up before apparently being commanded back down.
Authorities say the detective was alone and had just left the scene of another incident. He was stopped at a red light when the man walked up to the officer’s door.
“The male approached the car with his arms extended and apparently the detective thought he was being carjacked,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.
Investigators say the officer thought the man had a gun and in response, discharged his weapon, shattering the car window and hitting the man once in the stomach.
Family members identified the shooting victim as 28-year-old Joel Johnson. He was taken into police custody and is now fighting for his life at Temple University Hospital. Johnson is said to regularly panhandle at that intersection, asking drivers for spare change.
It’s claimed Johnson was saying something before the detective fired his weapon, but his words were said to be unclear.
The investigation has revealed Johnson did not have a gun.
“I’m not going to sit here and say we haven’t found one,” said Ross. “We don’t expect to find one.”
Some on the block say they can understand why the detective may have thought Johnson was armed.
“Something shiny and nice, coming flashing at you, yeah, it’s a possibility,” said Marnie Aument Loughery. “These aren’t best lit streets and we have a lot of people here that are addicted to drugs trying to get money any way they can.”
Relatives say Johnson has a mental disability and a misunderstanding nearly cost him his life.
“My little brother asked for a quarter, did a gesture, officer got nervous and started shooting through the window,” said Johnson’s brother, Hector Tirado.
A man who lives just feet away from the shooting saw Johnson gesturing for money.
“He could have shot my granddaughter, or my daughter, or wife,” a resident said. “This man is out here every day from 9 in the morning to like 6, 7 or 8 at night begging for quarters. We feed him. He is innocent.”
Many residents felt the detective was wrong to discharge his weapon.
“You go to a police academy to be trained right or wrong, to know the difference, you should know the difference between plain hands, a quarter and a gun,” said Louis Feliciano.
Ross said the detective, who is a seven-year veteran of the force, is on desk duty while police look into whether this was a justifiable shooting.
CBS3’s Crystal Cranmore and Joe Holden contributed to this report.