Lawyers of former Philly cop who shot running man wants out-of-town jury

Steve Tawa
April 16, 2019 - 1:04 pm
Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice

Kristen Johanson | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The defense team representing a former Philadelphia police officer wants an out-of-town jury brought in at his upcoming trial. He's charged with third-degree murder in the shooting death of a man during a traffic stop in 2017. 

During pre-trial motions, attorney Charles Gibbs argued that, because of intense media coverage prejudicial to his client, it may be difficult to empanel an impartial jury from the city. A private investigator the defense hired found over 100 news articles on ex-cop Ryan Pownall's encounter with 30-year-old David Jones. 

He stopped Jones for riding a dirt bike on a street in the Juniata section of the city and, while frisking the suspect, he felt a gun in Jones' wasteband. And then there was a struggle.

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Assistant District Attorney Tracy Tripp argued all of the media coverage her office looked at — including radio, TV, newspapers and online — appeared fair and balanced.

A grand jury presentment found Pownall shot Jones twice in the back while he was unarmed and running away. Prosecutors allege Jones' gun was recovered about 25 feet behind where Pownall stood, as he fired at Jones. Defense lawyer Fortunato Perri Jr. argues Pownall was justified in his actions, after Jones pulled a pistol from his waist. 

The defense suggests picking a jury from elsewhere, like Pittsburgh, and bringing them to Philadelphia to hear testimony and weigh evidence.

Judge Barbara McDermott told both sides that she would look at the briefs that they file on the matter. But she noted that she was reluctant to impose any type of gag order to hamper news coverage of the trial, now scheduled for early next year.