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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

[PA] Whistleblower Officer Brown, shot with his own gun, recovering

...Brown, who has received three commendations for his police work, is the first and only black officer on the force. In 2004, he clashed with Upper Darby brass, claiming that they had failed to process one of his DUI arrests because the defendant was "a friend" of the department...

U. Darby officer crashes, suffers gunshot wound
Police are trying to determine the cause of the shooting of the off-duty officer.

By Kathleen Brady Shea
Feb. 23, 2008
[Excerpts] Police are investigating unusual circumstances surrounding the shooting of an off-duty Upper Darby police officer early yesterday. Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood Sr. said Officer Jerome Brown, 30, was in stable condition last night after surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for a gunshot wound to the abdomen... Officers found Brown unconscious in his 2000 red BMW, which had smashed into an overhead light standard at the M&T Bank office after striking a 1999 Ford pickup. The occupant of the truck was not injured... Medics administering to Brown observed the gunshot wound, and investigators found a Glock 9mm handgun in a holster on the front passenger's seat floor, Chitwood said. He said the gun, which had been fired once, was an off-duty weapon registered to Brown... Brown received publicity in 2005 when The Inquirer reported that Vincent J. Ficchi, the former Upper Darby police superintendent, had quashed a 2003 drunken-driving arrest by him. Ficchi resigned after a no-confidence vote by his officers. Michael J. Malloy, an attorney who represented Brown during that controversy, did not know the circumstances of Brown's gunshot wound. He said Brown, a Marine veteran, was committed to telling the truth. "He's a great guy, a stand-up guy, both in uniform and out," said Malloy...

Upper Darby cop shot in car, possibly by own gun
Philadelphia Daily News
By WILLIAM BENDER benderw@phillynews.com 215-854-5255
Feb 23, 2008
[Excerpts] ...Brown, 30, a father of three and former bike cop from Lansdowne, rammed a pole in a bank parking lot at about 6 a.m. after his vehicle struck another driver's SUV. As medics were extracting him from the vehicle, they discovered "what appeared to be a gunshot wound in his lower-left abdomen area"... One round had been fired from the gun, but the bullet casing did not eject... Brown, who has received three commendations for his police work, is the first and only black officer on the force. In 2004, he clashed with Upper Darby brass, claiming that they had failed to process one of his DUI arrests because the defendant was "a friend" of the department..


Did DUI case fall through cracks? - Officers say police officials buried DUI arrest of 'friend' Upper Darby officers say department officials squelched the arrest of a repeat offender from Bala Cynwyd, calling him a "friend" of the force.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Mark Fazlollah
November 18, 2004
[Excerpts] The driver of the silver Buick was like a poster child for laws against drunken driving. He reeked of beer and refused a sobriety test. He had been weaving down Route 1 in Upper Darby when a policeman arrested him, just before midnight on Feb. 27, 2003. His record included three drunken-driving convictions and a crash that sent a woman to the hospital. If the new arrest stuck, he would face up to five years in jail. But the new arrest went away... Officer Jerome Brown had just begun his shift. He saw a silver Buick, followed it for several blocks, and pulled it over. "I detected a heavy odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from the vehicle and the operator's breath," Brown wrote in his report. "The operator also displayed bloodshot eyes"... Brown checked Panichi's license and found it was already suspended, because of a 2002 conviction for drunken driving... Brown booked Panichi... Panichi and his paperwork had been taken to the detective unit, where defendants are photographed and fingerprinted... Two officers who said they were in the room at the time, and who spoke on condition of anonymity, say a police supervisor approached the employee who had snapped the photo and ordered him to not do anything else. They say the supervisor took Panichi's arrest papers and left the room. "I witnessed George Rhoades stop the processing... [Officer Brown's lawyer] Michael J. Malloy, says Brown has described a call he received the next day, from Police Capt. James Kerns. "It's my understanding that the day after the arrest, Officer Brown got a call from Capt. Kerns and was asked to come in... Kerns told Officer Brown that Panichi was 'a friend of ours... We're going to take care of it." Brown "was informed by superiors that they were taking over the handling of the paperwork and the case"... Two other officers, including one of Brown 's superiors, say that soon after Panichi's arrest, a distraught Brown told them, too, that Kerns had used the word friend in explaining the case's handling... Brown also described a more recent conversation in which Kerns told him that Police Superintendent Vincent Ficchi and the police chief in neighboring Darby Borough, Robert F. Smythe, were handling the case "between chiefs"... Upper Darby department said that the arrest had been dropped by mistake and that Panichi would be rearrested... But last month, Rhoades said Brown was preventing this by refusing to sign new paperwork. Brown 's lawyer said his client had signed and sworn his original report and was not about to sign any new version. Attorney Malloy said Brown was refusing to sign a new, less detailed affidavit prepared by the department. Among the details left out: Brown 's statement that Panichi had admitted drinking that night. Rhoades said the original arrest papers simply cannot be found. "It's not the first time that happened," he said. Asked whether Panichi's case was dropped as a favor to a friend of the department, Rhoades said, "I can't comment on that"...

Police subpoenaed in DUI inquiry
Philadelphia Inquirer
Author: Barbara Boyer and Mark Fazlollah
July 12, 2005
[Excerpts] ...When high-ranking police officials learned of the arrest, those processing Panichi were ordered to stop and the paperwork was confiscated, the sources said, and Panichi was freed... Brown 's original paperwork has since gone missing... State officials at the Attorney General's Office would not comment on the case, said spokesman Kevin Harley. Grand jury proceedings are secret, and officials are barred by law from commenting... Two other ranking officials later pressured Brown not to pursue the matter because Panichi was "a friend of ours." Brown was told then that the case was being handled "between chiefs," sources said. Brown's original paperwork is gone, and the officer later refused to sign reports written by others that provided a less detailed account of the arrest...

U. Darbypolice face no charges in DUI case - A yearlong grand jury probe had studied the quashed drunken-driving arrest of a "friend" of the department.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Jeff Shields
January 4, 2006
[Excerpts] No criminal charges will be filed against current or former Upper Darbypolice officials in connection with the alleged attempt to quash a drunken-driving case for a "friend" of the department. A yearlong grand jury investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office closed last month without criminal charges. Delaware... "There was insufficient evidence to conclude that there was a deliberate attempt by anyone on the Upper Darbypolice force to obstruct justice," said Kevin Harley, spokesman for Attorney General Tom Corbett...

1 comment:

  1. Upper Darby police officer shot himself, authorities say
    Philadelphia Inquirer
    By Kathleen Brady Shea
    Wed, Feb. 27, 2008

    Police have concluded that the gunshot wound suffered by an off-duty Upper Darby Police officer on Friday was self-inflicted.

    Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood Sr. said yesterday that investigators determined that the gun recovered in Officer Jerome Brown's car was the weapon that caused the "in and out wound" to his abdomen. Chitwood would not say whether the discharge was accidental or intentional.

    Brown, 30, was reported in good condition yesterday at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he underwent surgery on Friday, a hospital spokesperson said.

    "We feel there's no criminality, and the incident will be handled internally," said Chitwood. "This is a difficult time in his life, and our thoughts and our prayers are with him and his family."

    Chitwood declined further comment.

    The wounded officer was discovered when Upper Darby police responded to a traffic accident at Lansdowne Avenue and Cedar Lane about 6 a.m. on Friday.

    Officers found Brown unconscious in his red 2000 BMW, which had smashed into a light pole after hitting a 1999 Ford pickup, whose driver was not injured, police said.

    Medics observed the gunshot wound, and officers found a Glock 9mm handgun in a holster on the front passenger's floor, police said, adding that the gun, which had been fired once, was an off-duty weapon registered to Brown.

    Brown, a Marine veteran, joined the department in 2000.

    Contact staff writer Kathleen Brady Shea at 610-701-7625 or kbrady@phillynews.com.



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