By Dustin Slaughter
20 year-old Philippe Holland, an unarmed food delivery driver who was shot multiple times by plainclothes Philadelphia police in West Philadelphia in April 2014, has filed suit against the two officers.
Officers Mitchell Farrell and Kevin Hanvey fired 14 shots at Holland’s vehicle, hitting the young man in the head, face, and legs. Holland was attempting to flee in his vehicle because he believed he was going to be robbed by the two men.
According to Holland’s complaint filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, the officers were responding to a police radio report of gunfire in the vicinity of 51st Street and Willows Avenue, although no description of a suspect had been broadcast on the evening Holland encountered the officers.
Holland and counsel allege that the two officers arrived in an unmarked car and did not identify themselves as law enforcement when they approached him. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey last year told Inquirer reporters Aubrey Whelan and Mike Newall:
“Although the officers said they announced that they were officers, in an area like that, everyone was hypervigilant – both the officers and the person who was shot – and it turned out not to be a good result.” Ramsey suggested Holland may not have heard the two officers identify themselves.
The complaint goes on to state that officers violated department policy by opening fire on Holland’s vehicle:
Upon information and belief, it is a violation of Philadelphia Police Department policy for an officer to fire at or from a moving vehicle unless deadly physical force is being used against the officer or another person present, by means other than the moving vehicle.
The suit also claims that the two officers, who were assigned to the 18th District, were improperly present within the 12th District at the time of the incident:
It is a violation of Philadelphia Police Department policy for an officer to perform regular police duties outside of the district to which he is assigned.
Farrell and Hanvey were later cleared by Internal Affairs and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office of any wrongdoing. West Philly residents and Holland supporters last year demanded that the police department make public the findings of its investigation, according to West Philly Local. To-date this has not occurred.
Holland, represented by attorney Thomas R. Kline, is seeking an award “in excess of $50,000.”
A Justice Department review of officer-involved shootings, started in 2013, was expected to be released in late December 2014. Commissioner Ramsey has reportedly received a list of recommendations, but no version of the Justice Department review has been released to the public. An official with the Justice Department’s COPS office told Declaration writer Austin Nolen on Thursday that the review will be released in March.
The full complaint can be read below: