David Jones, an African-American man who was stopped in June 2017 for allegedly driving his dirt bike recklessly, died after being gunned down by the officer when he fled on foot. Recently, his family has reached a $1 million settlement with the city of Philadelphia, but without the city’s admission of any liability.
Former Philadelphia Police Officer Brian Pownall was assisting with the transfer of people to the Special Victims Unit in an unrelated case when he stopped Jones because he was allegedly driving his dirt bike illegally. Pownall went on with frisking Jones and found a firearm in his waistband.
During a brief physical fight, Pownall tried to shoot Jones but his gun jammed. When Jones managed to break free, he dropped his firearm and ran away unarmed, with his hands held up until Pownall fired at least three shots at his back.
Regarding the incident, a grand jury stated, “Jones was no danger to anyone in his flight. His death was not necessary to secure his apprehension – an apprehension that would never have been necessary if Pownall had not incited the confrontation.”
Moreover, the incident sparked more protests against police brutality and calls for accountability. Pownall also had a history of shooting another Black man, Carnell Williams-Carney, who has been paralyzed since the shooting in 2010.
Pownall was fired from the Philadelphia Police Department in September 2017 and is now facing charges of criminal homicide, reckless endangerment, among others. He is being held in jail without bond while waiting for his preliminary hearing.
Meanwhile, the city of Philadelphia agreed to pay his family $1 million to avoid a lawsuit. The settlement, however, does not include any admission of liability on behalf of the city.
“The shooting death of David Jones was a tragic incident, and I hope this resolution will begin to assist his family in moving forward after what they have been through. My administration remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring all people in our City receive fair and equal treatment at the hands of law enforcement officials,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a press release.
The Jones family attorneys John M. Dodig, Robert J. Levant, and Philip Steinberg, issued a statement in response to the settlement on behalf of the family, saying “The death of Mr. Jones was a tragic and senseless loss of life. David Jones was loved by countless family members and friends and will always be remembered as a hard-working citizen who was dedicated to his family and friends. The death of David Jones was completely preventable and his family hopes that lessons are learned from this tragedy.”