On October 11, 2022, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara A. McDermott dismissed all pending criminal charges against former Philadelphia Police Officer Ryan Pownall in the killing of David Jones in 2017. Judge McDermott ruled that prosecutors did not properly instruct a grand jury as they weighed whether to bring charges in the case during a pre-trial hearing, leading her to move for all charges to be dismissed. CPOC respects the criminal justice process and will monitor any further developments should they occur.
While the criminal case has ended, now is when the arbitration process typically begins. Historically, when an officer who is charged with a crime is not found guilty in a criminal court, they are often returned to duty by the arbitration process. CPOC wishes to highlight that a bright line must be drawn between actions that are criminal, and policy violations that preclude further employment. CPOC strongly supports the Philadelphia Police Department’s decision to dismiss former officer Pownall. Criminal culpability is not the only standard by which any government employee is judged, and police should be no exception. Former Officer Pownall’s violations of the departmental policy related to the use of deadly force are clear, are recorded on video, and have been reviewed and adjudicated using the appropriate administrative standard, and as such, his dismissal should be upheld. Does anyone, employed anywhere, believe they can violate numerous policies, kill someone at work, and keep their job?
It is imperative that Philadelphia Police Department leaders have the authority to hold officers employed to represent the department and serve the residents of Philadelphia accountable when the evidence supports it. The department’s integrity is diminished when critical disciplinary decisions can be reversed based on an inapplicable criminal standard. Being a police officer is an honor that should be reserved for the best our city has to offer, and the expectations of conduct should rightfully be high. Thousands of officers adhere to these standards daily and their dedication and service should not be diminished by an arbitration process that habitually fails to function as designed.
CPOC stands firm behind PPD’s original disciplinary decision to remove Pownall from the department, and asserts, based on the evidence, that he should never be reinstated as an police officer.
CPOC will continue to monitor this case and the Commission will continue to advocate for a fair and transparent police disciplinary process that adheres to the administrative standards that should guide outcomes.