Six suburban Philadelphia police officers appear to have been justified in shooting and killing a driver who aimed a gun at them after telling his cousin he was "not going back to jail," a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Delaware County District Attorney John Whelan told reporters that Shalamar Longer, of Chester, pointed a revolver at the officers after they chased his SUV into that city early Monday.
Longer's cousin, a passenger in the SUV, told investigators that the driver told him that "'he was not going back to jail' ... under any circumstances, apparently," Whelan said.
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Longer, 33, had an extensive criminal record going back to 1999, including jail terms for robbery and drug convictions, and he was on parole at the time of the shooting because of a second-degree felony robbery conviction in Philadelphia, Whelan said. In addition, as a convicted felon, he should not have been in possession of a gun, Whelan said.
An Upland officer was about to stop the vehicle shortly after 2 a.m. Monday because a license plate light was burned out, but the vehicle took off and the pursuit began, Whelan said.
"He obviously knew he had the gun on his person, he knew he was on parole, and he knew that he wasn't allowed to have that weapon," Whelan said. "So when the officer from Upland pulled behind him, he took off," Whelan said.
The pursuit at varying speeds went out of the township onto Interstate 95 and then into Chester, where the SUV hit a parked car and went partially onto a resident's lawn.
Six officers — four from Chester, one from Upland and one from Chester Township — opened fire after Longer pointed the revolver at them, shooting him "more than 50" times while he was still in the vehicle, Whelan said. Longer did not fire the gun, which was loaded, Whelan said.
Whelan said the 24-year-old passenger bailed out of the car onto the lawn before the gunfire and was wounded in the ankle by a bullet but was out of the hospital by that evening.
Although the investigation hasn't been concluded, the shooting "appears to be justified" based on the passenger's statements, the forensic evidence and cellphone analysis, Whelan said. The statement about not going back to jail "speaks volumes," he said, especially since it was followed by the speaker aiming a gun at the six officers, who "were in imminent fear of death or serious bodily injury."