Fired Philly officer, charged with murder, asks for jury from outside the city

Kristen Johanson
June 26, 2019 - 8:54 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A fired Philadelphia police officer, charged with murder, has asked for a jury outside the city. The judge is considering it, but said she wants to know how Philadelphians feel about the case.

Ryan Pownall is accused of shooting and killing David Jones during a traffic stop in June 2017.

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The case gained extensive media coverage, and the 37-year-old Pownall claims that he won't be able to get a fair trial if the case is heard with a Philadelphia jury panel.

Judge Barbara McDermott has ruled that they will poll random jury panels in both August and September to get a sense of whether Philadelphians feel they can be impartial.  

Lawyers will come up with questions, approved by the judge, to ask the selected groups — sort of like a voir dire questionnaire, which every juror has to take.

Then the judge will decide whether to bring in people from another county.

In court, McDermott acknowledged that the recent investigation and subsequent coverage of racist Facebook posts allegedly written by 72 Philadelphia police officers could play a role in the case. 

She also said she realized there's a "racial component to the case" as Pownall is white, and the victim, Jones, is black.

The trial is scheduled for next January.