Officer in plain clothes shoots man with special needs asking for change

Dan Wing
May 21, 2019 - 8:04 am
An SUV in Kensington was hit by a bullet in a police-involved shooting.

Dan Wing/KYW Newsradio

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UPDATED: 7:43 p.m.

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia police officer dressed in plain clothing shot a man with special needs Monday night in Kensington, because he thought the man had a gun.

Police say the officer left a crime scene just before 9 p.m., and as he was driving down G Street near Tioga Street, a man shouted something and approached the detective's window with his arms extended in front of his chest.

"From a preliminary standpoint, the detective thought he was being carjacked," said Police Commissioner Richard Ross. "He was by himself in an unmarked car, and he discharged his weapon."

Ross said the detective fired four shots at the 29-year-old man, one of them hitting him in the torso. 

The man was simply asking for change. He is known in the neighborhood to ask others for change daily, and they say he tends to run up to cars with his arms out.

The victim's brother, Hector Tirado, said everyone in the neighborhood knows him.

"Everybody stops, give him change, you know. They buy him food, and he don't bother nobody," he said.

"This man is out here everyday, from 9 in the morning to like 6, 7, 8 at night," added a neighbor. "Begging for quarters. We feed him. He's innocent. He's like a puppy ... he don't hurt nobody."

Ross added they did not recover a gun at the scene, and police don't expect to.

"It doesn't appear that he was intending to do harm, but ... I don't know that the detective knew that," Ross said. "And so, certainly not drawing any conclusions other than saying that's just what we know so far." 

The detective has been placed on desk duty, and an investigation into the shooting is ongoing. Authorities say the detective is 29-years-old and joined the police department in October 2011.

The man was in critical condition, but he's expected to survive.