A former Philadelphia police officer who was once considered a hero after being shot in the face was in court Monday to face a private criminal complaint.
Richard Decoatsworth, 25, allegedly threatened a neighbor and his wife in the vicinity of Salmon Street and Lehigh Avenue in the city’s Port Richmond section of Philadelphia on January 25. Although he was not arrested, he has been charged with simple assault and harassment. The case went into arbitration and Trial Commissioner Catherine Dumoff issued mutual stay-away orders for a year, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, which declined further comment.
He is also facing investigation over a second complaint that has not gone to court yet.
For Decoatsworth, these legal proceedings are the latest in a career with ups and downs: several complaints alleging abusive language that were resolved and a disputed shooting in 2009, but also an invitation to hear President Barack Obama’s economic speech before Congress, during which he sat next to first lady Michelle Obama.
Decoatsworth joined the force in 2007. Later that same year in September, he was critically injured during a routine traffic stop in West Philadelphia.
On September 24, Decoatsworth pulled over a car that was occupied by four young Black males just after 9 a.m. During the traffic stop, one male allegedly reached into the car, pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and fired, hitting Decoatsworth in the face. After he was shot, Decoatsworth managed to return fire and pursued the suspects almost four blocks to 51st and Arch streets, where he sat down because of the bleeding. A responding officer rushed him to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
West Philadelphia was inundated with police officers searching for the suspect who fired the gun. Antonio Coulter of Farson Street was later arrested when he tried to break into a house. He was found in an alley hiding in the bushes and was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and related offenses. Coulter was prosecuted and sentenced to 36 to 72 years in prison for the shooting by Common Pleas Judge Glenn Bronson.
Decoatsworth’s injuries were not considered life-threatening, but he had to endure several surgeries. He returned to duty in June 2008 as a highway patrol officer.
In April 2009, Decoatsworth was involved in a disputed police-related shooting.
Law enforcement officials reported that on the day in question, Decoatsworth was on patrol on his motorcycle in the 4900 block of Warnock Street just after 1 p.m. when he was charged by Anthony Temple. There was a brief struggle, during which Decoatsworth’s weapon discharged. Temple fled the scene and was pursued by another officer, and there was another brief struggle. The second officer discharged his weapon and Temple was fatally wounded. According to the victim’s family, he allegedly suffered from mental health problems, and the city paid $90,000 in an out of court settlement.
Decoatsworth resigned from the force in December.