Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

Pa. court rejects DA Krasner's use-of-force appeal

Plus, a beginner’s guide to Right-to-Know requests.

A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
July 21, 2022
Krasner's SCOPA setback, records ruling, RTK guidance, treatment risks, Fetterman's return, and the Breezewood Galaxy. It's Thursday.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has delivered a blow to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner's murder case against a former police officer in a ruling with implications for police-shooting prosecutions statewide.

Krasner's office appealed to the court last year to consider the constitutionality of a section of state law that allows officers to use deadly force to prevent someone from escaping arrest. The appeal focused on a 36-year-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling the DA says established a higher bar.

Krasner argued that the U.S. Supreme Court precedent around deadly force against fleeing suspects should be reflected in the instructions that Pennsylvania jurors hear before deciding such cases. 

The majority-Democrat state Supreme Court, in a 4-2 decision handed down on Wednesday, said that although it agrees police shootings warrant "serious examination, by every facet of government as well as those outside of it," Krasner's office had chosen the wrong venue, per The Inquirer.

THE CONTEXT: Krasner's appeal stems from a murder case against ex-city officer Ryan Pownall for the 2017 fatal shooting of David Jones.

Jones, 30, was shot in the back while fleeing a traffic stop on foot. Jones reportedly had a firearm at the start of the encounter but had dropped it before he was shot. Pownall, who discharged his gun from between 10 and 35 feet away, was later fired for violating police department policy.

Krasner's office said it wasn't aiming to change state law with its appeal but rather the guidance jurors hear related to the law. Experts told Spotlight PA it's doubtful such a change would have fundamentally altered outcomes in police trials anyway, given the density of jury instructions.

Pownall's case is still headed for trial, but the start date isn't clear. Krasner's office wouldn't discuss the possibility of further appeals with The Inquirer, only saying it disagreed with the state Supreme Court's decision. Pownall's attorney did not provide immediate comment to the outlet.

"Just as I knew it was coming in 2020, we're going to see it again. The legislature knows it, and they're not doing a damn thing to fix it."

—Al Schmidt, former GOP city commissioner for Philadelphia, on unresolved issues fueling election worker anxiety in a key election year

» BUDGET BREAKDOWN: Join us Tuesday, July 26 at 6 p.m. on Zoom for a free breakdown of Pa.'s multibillion-dollar budget and how it will impact you. Register for the event here and submit questions to events@spotlightpa.org.

In honor of the dog days of summer, we've got a photo with a dog in it for the second day straight, this one via @samanthasearsmusicSend us your Pennsylvania pics, use #PAGems on IG, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
PRIVATE INFO: Real Alternatives — a Harrisburg-based "crisis pregnancy" organization that counsels pregnant people against abortion — does not have to reveal details of its agreements with third-party vendors despite the public funding involved, Commonwealth Court said in a ruling issued earlier this week. Real Alternatives received $30 million in taxpayer dollars between 2012 and 2017, per Capital-Star.

EXPERT ADVICE: With public records appeals on the rise, Spotlight PA gathered tips and analyzed data to help citizens optimize their law enforcement-focused public records requests. Incident reports, criminal records, and crime data are some of the most common records requested from police agencies, but residents can ask for other documents, too. Here's a guide with everything you need to know.

DRUG DEATH: A federal lawsuit says a drug treatment facility in Allentown failed to prevent the overdose death of a resident by not accounting for his whereabouts at a 9 p.m. headcount and not stopping a steady flow of drugs into the facility, per Lehigh Valley Live. As Spotlight PA reported, addiction treatment providers in Pennsylvania face little state scrutiny, even when harm to clients is involved.

RETURN TRIP: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman is set to make his first major in-person campaign appearance in weeks at a Philadelphia fundraiser tonight, Axios reports. Fetterman has been off the trail since a stroke and pacemaker surgery in May, and his Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz, has been calling attention to the absence. The contest between the two has remained Extremely Online.

VETO OVERRIDE: A week after Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald vetoed a ban on new fracking under county-owned parks, his veto was overturned on Tuesday, TribLIVE reports. The next morning, state Rep. Gene Yaw (R., Lycoming) began circulating a bill that would block counties that ban fracking under public lands, like parks, from receiving their cut of the state's tax on new drilling

DOUBLED UP: Double-decker passenger cars are coming to SEPTA's regional rail fleet. They're under construction in China and expected to arrive next year. This is what straphangers can expect.

TURKEY TRACKER: Pennsylvania's Game Commission is tracking 100 wild turkeys with GPS, WPSU reports. The goal? To figure out why their populations have been declining for two decades.

FEEL GOOD: TribLIVE's Paula Reed Ward moved into a new house with her family. Everything seemed perfect until one of their dogs got loose. A "roller coaster of turmoil, hope, and faith in humanity" followed.

PUBLIC OASIS: It's hot out there: What better time for a love letter to the cherished community pool? Here's one from The Inquirer.

SPACE STOP: Just when you thought the deep-space photos couldn't get more beautiful, someone goes and adds Breezewood to the mix.

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.
*This week's theme: Bugs 🐜🕷🦟

Yesterday's answer: Arachnophobia

Congrats to our daily winners: Don H., Alissa H., Susan N.-Z., Barbara F., Irene R., Ted W., Susan D., Kevin M., Brooke S., Al M., Diane P., Jessica K., Doris T., Michelle T., Beth T., Greg V., Kim C., Dan W., Elaine C., Craig W., Lynne E., David S., James B., Cheryl D., George S., Starr B., Karen W., Dianne K., Kim B., Cynthia P., Bill S., Nancy S., Ted M., David W., Jane R., Kimberly D., and Cindy M.
Like PA Post? Share it with a friend.

Love PA Post? Chip in to support local journalism.

Forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

Copyright © Spotlight PA / The Philadelphia Inquirer, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
225 Market St., Suite 502A
Harrisburg, PA 17101

You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Post, a daily newsletter by Spotlight PA.

You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.