Man Found Not Guilty in Slaying of Philly Police Official's Son

Tyquan Atkinson, 22, was found not guilty on all counts for the murder of Nick Flacco in 2019.

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • Tyquan Atkinson, 22, was found not guilty on all counts for the murder of Nick Flacco at FDR Park in Philadelphia three years ago.
  • Flacco, the son of a Philadelphia Police commander, was with a group of friends after a Phillies game back on March 29, 2019, to celebrate his 20th birthday when two groups of girls got into a fight which escalated into a shooting that took Flacco's life.
  • Atkinson was initially identified as the gunman and arrested. During the trial, Atkinson maintained his innocence while his attorney pointed to inconsistencies from witnesses.

A man who was accused of killing a Philadelphia Police Department chief inspector's son at FDR Park three years ago was found not guilty on all counts.

KYW News Radio first reported the verdict Wednesday afternoon.

Tyquan Atkinson, 22, had been charged with the murder of Nicholas Flacco.

Flacco, a student at Penn State's main campus in State College, was visiting home on March 29, 2019, to celebrate his 20th birthday. He was with a group of people who had tailgated during the Phillies-Braves game. They started in the Jetro parking lot before moving across Broad Street to FDR Park.

While they were there, two groups of girls got into a fight inside the park. Philadelphia Police Homicide Capt. Jason Smith described the encounter as "random" and said it ended with one woman threatening "to call her man" before adding that "they should be afraid."

A gunman arrived in a car a short-time later, had a verbal exchange with Flacco's friends, and fired a shot into the air, investigators said.

Police said two of Flacco's friends had dared the gunman to shoot them.

The gunman fired another round from his revolver into the ground. But the group still wasn't fazed as he stormed off inside the South Philadelphia park, police said.

Ten minutes later, however, the gunman walked back to the group, pointed at Flacco's chest and opened fire.

Flacco, the son of Chief Inspector Christopher Flacco, the head of the Philadelphia Police Internal Affairs Division, was dead by the time he reached Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in a police car.

Nicholas Flacco

Police didn't believe Flacco was involved in the argument or any altercation prior to the shooting.

Police later identified Atkinson as the gunman. On April 3, 2019, Atkinson was arrested and charged in Flacco's death after trying to flee U.S. Marshals by going onto the roof of a fireworks store on the 800 block of Upland Avenue in Chester, Pennsylvania. 

During the trial, Atkinson said he couldn't remember where he was at the exact moment of Flacco's death, according to KYW News Radio.

Atkinson claimed he drove by FDR Park the night of Flacco's murder and saw police lights flashing but didn't go in. Prosecutors, meanwhile, showed video of the brawl that occurred prior to Flacco's death, interviewed witnesses and showed cell phone records they said proved that Atkinson was at the park at the time of the shooting.

The defense however said Atkinson was falsely identified as the gunman and pointed to inconsistencies from witnesses.

“There were a number of witnesses in this case and almost every witness had a different remembrance of what happened," Atkinson's attorney Evan Hughes said after the verdict. "Almost every witness saw something different and we decided to painstakingly present that to the jury and show them this was not just a clear cut case that was presented. There was a lot more to it. We’re happy with the jury’s decision.” 

Atkinson's ex-girlfriend also testified that he told her he had killed someone, according to KYW News Radio. The defense said she was coerced into saying he confessed however.

Atkinson also said he initially fled from police before his arrest because he was scared when he found out they were accusing him of being the shooter.

Atkinson's loved ones embraced each other outside the courthouse following Wednesday's verdict.

“It’s been three years we’ve been waiting for this moment and preparing, fighting for this moment so I’m very happy that we’re finally done," Hughes said.

Atkinson was not in the courtroom during the verdict due to a power outage. Hughes said his client will be released Wednesday night.

Contact Us