Officials ID Officer Who Shot and Killed Dirt Bike Rider During Stop

The police commissioner promises an investigation into the deadly confrontation

Officials have identified a dirt bike rider as well as the officer who shot and killed him in North Philadelphia last Thursday.

Investigators say Officer Ryan Pownall, a 12-year veteran assigned to the 15th District, was transporting people to the Special Victims Unit at 300 East Hunting Park Avenue on June 8 around 6:40 p.m. Investigators say Pownall spotted David Jones, 30, riding a red dirt bike in a "reckless manner." Pownall then saw the dirt bike stall on the sidewalk next to a nightclub on the 4200 block of Whitaker Avenue, police said.

Investigators say Pownall stopped his vehicle and tried to question Jones.

"Initially (the officer) was only going there to tell this guy to knock it off," Police Commissioner Richard Ross said.

Initial reports explained that the dirt bike rider got off his bike and started to walk away from the officer, but information from a preliminary investigation released Friday and Monday stated that Jones allegedly turned away from the officer and began holding the front of his waistband. Police say Pownall patted Jones down and felt a firearm in his waistband. Officer Pownall then took out his gun and repeatedly told Jones not to touch the weapon, police said.

"(The officer) looks in his face and says 'Bro don't do it, bro don't do it,'" Ross said.

Investigators say a struggle then ensued between the two men and Jones allegedly pulled a gun from his waistband. Officer Pownall squeezed the trigger of his service weapon but it jammed, police said. Pownall then cleared the stoppage and opened fire as Jones ran away south on Whitaker Avenue, according to investigators.

"The individual then starts to run and the officer then discharges," Ross said. "He is running ahead of the officer when he discharges from behind, so that's a piece we want to look at very closely."

Jones was shot in the back and buttocks. He was taken to Temple University Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 6:59 p.m. Thursday.

Several people who knew Jones arrived within minutes and started yelling at officers. Ross was at the scene as well. One woman described Jones as a "good boy" who didn't bother anyone.

Pownall was not injured during the incident.

A black handgun — later identified by police as a fully-loaded 9mm — could be seen several feet from the dirt bike as a reporter arrived to the scene. Investigators say the gun belonged to Jones and was loaded with 15 9mm cartridges in the magazine.

The dirt bike lay on its side, surrounded by officers and detectives.

Surveillance video from a nearby restaurant appears to show the suspect running away from the officer. 

"I did watch the video and clearly one of the shots was taken while the male was running away, there's no doubt about that," Ross said.

Ross said the video gives investigators "pause."

"The one video video vantage point is actually showing or depicting the officer firing as the guy is running away," Ross said. "I can't get into what the officer may have been seeing or believing at that particular time. Clearly he knows he was in a struggle with a violent guy prior to that."

Ross said he wants to make sure that the officer was following department protocol, which states you should only shoot a fleeing suspect if they are a suspect in a "forcible felony," but there are exceptions and you shouldn't always shoot.

Ross said that a witness being transported by the officer at the time also said "don't do it" before watching the suspect grab a gun. The witness' story corroborates the officer's, Ross said.

Ross asked anyone who may have witnessed the incident to come forward and share information with authorities.

Pownall was placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation. Ross said they would review if the officer followed department protocol.

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