Suspect In Custody After Allegedly Shooting 6 Philadelphia Police Officers
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Six Philadelphia police officers were shot early Thursday morning during a nearly 8-hour standoff. The suspected gunman surrendered and is now in custody, NBC News reports. Police officers were serving a narcotics warrant at a home in North Philadelphia Wednesday afternoon when the suspect allegedly opened fire at approximately 4:30 p.m. Shortly after midnight, the suspect surrendered and police officers cleared the house. “It’s nothing short of a miracle that we don’t have multiple officers killed today,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. said Wednesday night.

Suspect Wanted To Surrender Peacefully

The suspect, identified by attorney Shaka Johnson as Maurice Hill, reportedly called  Johnson for help. “He wanted to try to figure out a way out without any further violence coming to anyone or himself,” Johnson said. “I could sense that he was panicking and trying to figure out, how do I get out of this situation alive.” Johnson worked with police officers to convince Hill to exit the home and surrender to authorities. According to Ross, officers were already in the building when the suspect opened fire, forcing them to escape through windows and take cover behind cars. SWAT team members were able to free two police officers trapped inside of the suspect’s building, the LA Times reports. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney criticized federal and state governments for not standing up to the National Rifle Association, paving the way for his city’s officers to come under attack. “This government, both on federal and state level, don’t want to do anything about getting these guns off the streets and getting them out of the hands of criminals,” Kenney said. “…Our officers deserve to be protected and they don’t deserve to be shot at by a guy for hours with an unlimited supply of weapons and an unlimited supply of bullets. So it’s disgusting and we have to do something about it.” Kenney continued: “So whether it’s our six officers who were shot or it’s some 15, 17, 20-year-old kid on the streets of Philadelphia who gets shot with guns that shouldn’t be in people’s hands, it’s aggravating, it’s saddening and it’s just something we need to do something about. And if the state and federal government don’t want to stand up to the NRA and some other folks, then let us police ourselves.”

Philadelphia Police Department and Gun Violence

Unfortunately, the Philadelphia Police Department hasn’t done a very good job of policing themselves. As ESSENCE previously reported, seventy-two officers in Philadelphia were pulled off the streets and placed on administrative leave for posting violent, white supremacist hate speech on social media, including “violent rhetoric, anti-Muslim sentiments, racist comments, and Confederate imagery.” Thirteen of the police officers removed from the streets have been fired, the Washington Post reports. Additionally, Philadelphia police Richard Nicoletti will not face any charges for shooting and killing Jeffrey Dennis, 36, in 2018, despite clearly violating department policy, the Philadelphia Tribune reports. Nor will Philadelphia police officers face any accountability for the 2014 shooting death of Brandon Tate-Brown, 26. Further, according to a 2015 study, Philadelphia police shot Black people at about “twice the rate of their occurrence in the general population. The Guardian reports that “eighty-one percent of people shot by police officers in Philadelphia from 2007 to 2013 were African American, despite Black people accounting for just more than 40% of the city’s population.” So, Kenney is correct. Gun control conversations—from state-sanctioned police shootings to planted weapons—must include police departments. No Philadelphia police officers were fatally or critically wounded in Thursday morning’s shootings. They have all been released from the hospital.