The killing of Lawrence Allen in 2008 was one of those incidents of unthinking recklessness that was made even more tragic that it allegedly was perpetrated by two Philadelphia police officers who should have known better.
Now those former officers are facing criminal charges over a stolen pizza.
On Friday, District Attorney Seth Williams announced that Chauncey Ellison Sr., 39, has been charged with voluntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person, possession of an instrument of crime and conspiracy. Ellison’s girlfriend and fellow former officer, Robin Fortune, 44, has been charged with conspiracy and recklessly endangering another person in the death of 19-year-old Lawrence Allen.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey fired the couple in 2010 and District Attorney Seth Williams publicly promised he would investigate the case and that if criminal charges were warranted, he would file them.
“The arrests of Ellison and Fortune should send a message to all criminals in Philadelphia. We will prosecute you for your crime, no matter who you are or what your job title is. If you break the law in Philadelphia, my office will come after you. This young man was shot over a pizza by someone who was supposed to protect and serve our community,” said Williams. “Words cannot adequately express how tragic this is.”
Allen was shot in the back on the night of November 17, 2008, right outside of his home on the 1900 block of Renovo Street. The bullet severed his spinal column and he spent the remaining three months of his life as a paraplegic. He died on Feb. 20, 2009, from complications rising from his injuries. On that fateful night, Ellison’s son told his father that a neighborhood boy, 16-year old Demetrius Haywood, had punched him and took his pizza. Instead of calling 911, Ellison, his son and daughter, along with Fortune, allegedly went looking for the thief, whom they found outside of Allen’s house with the victim.
Allen tried to diffuse the situation and offered to pay for the stolen pizza, even though he had nothing to do with the robbery. Allegedly, instead of trying to ease the escalating situation, Fortune goaded Ellison into shooting Allen.
The grand jury considered every aspect of the incident in determining what charges to levy against Ellison and Fortune, and if Ellison was acting in self defense when he shot Allen. Early in the investigation there was conflicting testimony from the witnesses that indicated Allen may have pulled out a firearm — but no other weapon was recovered.
Teen Robbery Suspects Arrested
Two teens, suspected of attacking and robbing a 72-year-old man inside a take-out Chinese food restaurant have been identified and arrested with the community’s assistance.
Tyrell Langford, 19, of the 400 Block of East Ashmead Street and his 16-year-old alleged accomplice have been charged with robbery and related offenses. The name of the 16-year-old has been withheld by the Philadelphia Police Department.
On June 29, 2012, at 5:30 p.m., the 72-year-old male was picking up a take-out order at the Chinese restaurant located at 129 West Chelten Avenue. While the victim was at the counter, one of the suspects punched him and knocked him to the floor. When the victim was down, one of the suspects took his wallet and both fled on foot down Chelten Avenue toward Knox Street.
Teen Shooter Identified
Law enforcement authorities have released the name of the 16-year-old who was arrested last Wednesday for shooting two people following the Fourth of July celebration on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The teen has been identified as Nafis Scott, from the unit block of Price Street. He will be charged with two counts of aggravated assault, assault on police, weapons charges and related offenses. Scott, who was wounded by responding officers in the incident, is currently in stable condition at Hahnemann Hospital recovering from a graze wound to the chest.