The former Philly police officer whose murder case was dismissed by a judge has sued DA Larry Krasner

The former Philly police officer whose murder case was dismissed by a judge has sued DA Larry Krasner

Updated: 3 months, 18 days, 33 minutes, 58 seconds ago

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner in 2018, as his office announced charges against former police officer Ryan Pownall. Pownall is now suing Krasner. Read more

Former Philadelphia Police officer Ryan Pownall, whose murder case was dismissed by a judge earlier this month, has sued District Attorney Larry Krasner, saying the city’s top prosecutor repeatedly violated his constitutional rights while seeking to convict him in an on-duty shooting.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court this week, Pownall said Krasner’s actions caused “irreparable” harm to him and “our entire system of justice.”

He said Krasner and the assigned prosecutor, Tracy Tripp, “manipulated” a grand jury to charge him with murder in 2018, improperly bypassed his preliminary hearing, then, before trial, sought to change a state law that could have crippled his defense.

After that, Pownall said, Krasner withheld from his lawyers an expert report that concluded that his “use of deadly force in this case was justified.”

All the while, Pownall said, Krasner regularly and improperly discussed the case in the media — including to a documentary crew, which released an hour-long episode about the prosecution featuring footage shot inside the DA’s Office.

Pownall is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

» READ MORE: A Philly judge threw out all charges in the murder case against former police officer Ryan Pownall

The suit marks the latest development in a yearslong legal battle over the incident. Pownall, who is white, was accused of shooting David Jones, a 30-year-old Black man, in 2017. Jones had been illegally carrying a gun when Pownall stopped him for riding a dirt bike on a city street. Pownall shot Jones after the two got into a tussle over Jones’ weapon and Jones ran away.

The DA’s Office on Friday did not immediately reply to a request for comment about the suit. Tripp declined to comment, as did representatives for the city, which is also named as a defendant.

The criminal case against Pownall was dismissed earlier this month by Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara A. McDermott, who ruled that prosecutors had failed years ago to provide proper legal instructions to a grand jury as it weighed whether to charge Pownall with murder.

Prosecutors still have the ability to appeal McDermott’s ruling or seek to re-file charges against Pownall. Krasner declined to offer specifics earlier this week when asked how his office planned to proceed, but said: “This case is not over.”

“We intend to vigorously pursue it,” Krasner said Monday at an unrelated news conference. “Exactly which highway that will go down is something that is being determined at this time.”

» READ MORE: Pa. Supreme Court sides with former Philly cop facing murder charges and says DA Krasner can’t ‘rewrite the law’

Pownall, in his suit, cites rulings from McDermott and state Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty that criticized how Krasner’s office handled Pownall’s prosecution.

McDermott, in documents filed after dismissing the charges, said the DA’s Office ”committed multiple errors” during the grand jury process that violated Pownall’s rights — including their “intentional, deliberate choice” to not tell panelists how and when police officers are justified in firing their weapons.

McDermott also said prosecutors “demonstrated a lack of candor” by “misstating the law” in seeking to bypass Pownall’s preliminary hearing.

And Dougherty, in a blistering opinion released this summer, went further, saying: “I cannot say [Krasner’s office] has treated Pownall fairly and equally.” The office’s actions, he wrote, were “the antithesis of what the law expects of a prosecutor.”

Pownall — who was fired not long after the shooting — has maintained that his actions that day were justified. The police officers’ union has consistently supported him, and, after his charges were dismissed this month, said it would try to get him reinstated to the force.