Grand Jury Tapped for Off-Duty Officer Shooting

Family wants murder charges filed against cop

A grand jury will probe the shooting death of a Port Richmond man at the hands of an off-duty Philadelphia Police officer.

Sgt. Frank Tepper was outside his Elkhart Street home on Nov. 22 when he shot 21-year old Billy Panas, police say.

Tepper said he fired off an accidental round after being jumped, but several witnesses paint a much different picture. Friends of Panas say the off-duty cop threatened to shoot the man as he lay on the ground and then fired after being challenged by Panas.

The amount of conflicting information prompted Philadelphia D.A. Lynne Abraham to send the case to a grand jury.

"Our ultimate goal is to find out the truth and to reach the best decision on the evidence," Abraham said.

Despite the number of witnesses who have already come forward, Abraham is hoping the grand jury will prompt more people to provide information.

While police search for more facts, the Panas family languishes in pain.

Wearing T-shirts memorializing Billy, the family cried as they demanded to see Tepper charged with murder.

"I just want justice for my son," said Panas' mother Karen.

There's no word on how long the grand jury investigation will last.

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