PHILADELPHIA - April 7, 2011 (WPVI) and [HERE] -- The family of a man fatally shot by Philadelphia police as they responded to New Year's Eve gunfire more than four years ago will receive $1.2 million in a legal settlement.
Bryan Jones, 20, was picking up his teen nephew from a friend's house when gunfire erupted nearby. The pair were trying to escape down a rear alley when Jones was shot. Officer Steven Szczepkowski said he fired after seeing one person with a gun and a second, Jones, reaching for his waistband.
Jones was unarmed when he was shot twice in the head that night, family lawyer Bruce Ginsburg said. Jones, a deli clerk who hoped to attend community college, was hit on the side of his head, just forward of his right ear, by an officer responding to reports of gunshots. He had no criminal record. Authorities recovered 155 shell casings and cartridges from 14 different weapons when they arrived at a pair of West Philadelphia row houses in the first few minutes of 2007.
Jones' death fueled criticism that Philadelphia police were too quick to fire their weapons. In 2006 and 2007 alone, 42 civilians were killed by police. The officer who fired the shot, Steven Szczepkowski remains on duty. He could not be reached for comment.
Then-District Attorney Lynne Abraham concluded that Bryan Jones was not an innocent victim.
But a federal judge this year refused to throw out the family's lawsuit.
The judge said a jury could find the police officer who shot Jones used excessive force and acted with willful misconduct.
The city settled the lawsuit Tuesday without admitting any wrongdoing. Szczepkowski, after further weapons training, remains on the job, Straw said.
The city was prepared to defend the lawsuit at trial, but settled rather than risk a costly jury verdict, Straw said.