Monday, August 9, 2021

How D.A. Set Up Cop To Be Sued By Man Who Tried to Kill Him

Illustration: Philadelphia Weekly
By Ralph Cipriano

On the night of Jan. 13, 2018, Officer Timothy Stephan of the Philadelphia Highway Patrol saw a car with Jersey plates going the wrong way down a one-way street in Kensington.

Stephan and his partner, Officer Anthony Mooney, pulled the car over on Kensington Avenue under the El. When Stephan searched Stefon Crawley, a 22 year-old passenger inside the vehicle, he felt a Glock in Crawley's waistband that was loaded with an extended foot-long magazine. 

"Gun," Stephan yelled to his partner.  The officer who drew his own gun, tried to retrieve the Glock while restraining Crawley, to prevent him from getting out of the car. But while Crawley was fighting back, he looked the officer in the eyes and told him three times, "You're gonna have to fucking kill me." Then, while he was trying to pull his own gun out of his waistband, Crawley overpowered the officer, and grabbed the officer's gun.

While the two men struggled over control of the officer's gun, Officer Stephan fired a single shot that struck Crawley in the left leg. The wounded man bolted out of the car but fell down on the ground, while Officer Stephan ripped Crawley's gun away from him. Next, Crawley got up and tried to run away. But Officer Jason Reid showed up. Believing Crawley was still armed, and worried that the one gunshot he just heard might have struck Officer Stephan, Reid opened fire, shooting the fleeing suspect four more times. 

Crawley was a gang member with a rap sheet on parole for armed robbery who was not supposed to leave the state of New Jersey; the gun he left behind turned out to be stolen. Crawley was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, plus three weapons charges. An internal investigation conducted by the Philadelphia Police Department's Officer Involved Shooting Investigation [OISI] Unit cleared Stephan after Crawley's DNA was found on Stephan's gun.

But this being Philadelphia, what happened next amounted to perverted justice emanating from the office of District Attorney Larry Krasner. When the D.A. refused to clear Officer Stephan, he was unable to testify at Crawley's criminal trial. The D.A.'s office subsequently dropped all charges against Crawley.

Next, Crawley, represented by Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt And Flores, LLC, the law firm that Krasner was formerly a member of, sued Officers Stephan and Reid in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court for damages.

What Crawley and his lawyers were seeking was a pay day. And according to a new federal lawsuit filed by a veteran police detective, instead of seeking justice for Officer Stephan, the D.A.'s office under Larry Krasner manipulated the criminal justice system to aid Crawley's civil claim against the cops. 

The story of Crawley's arrest is detailed in a civil rights case filed July 30th in U.S. District Court by former Philadelphia Police Detective Derrick Jacobs, who is acting as his own lawyer. The case lists as defendants the city of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Police Department, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, and several top police officials, in addition to District Attorney Larry Krasner and Assistant District Attorney Tracy Tripp.

The lawsuit, which outlines allegations of corruption in the D.A.'s office and the police department, charges Krasner and Tripp with malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and conspiracy.

Jacobs has previously filed a complaint in federal court against the D.A.'s office and the police department, but that complaint was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Harvey Bartle III. 

But Jacobs the novice lawyer won an appeal to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which promptly remanded the case back to Judge Bartle. Bartle promptly dismissed an amended second complaint, a decision now under appeal by Jacobs in the Third Circuit. In the meantime, Jacobs has filed a new complaint.  

Jacobs was a member of the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Unit that investigated and cleared Officer Stephan after he shot Crawley. But Krasner's office launched its own tainted investigation that 0according to Jacobs, had an underhanded purpose. 

"Krasner's DAO intentionally did not clear the officers involved in this officer involved shooting to testify against Crawley because Krasner's former law firm was representing Crawley," Jacobs asserted in his complaint.

"Tripp and Assistant District Attorney Brian Collins had a meeting with the judge and withdrew the charges against Crawley so he could seek damages against Officer Stephan in a civil suit represented by Krasner's former law firm."

"In 2021, Crawley's lawyers wanted a deposition from Officer Stephan," Jacobs wrote. "Stephan could not provide a deposition because 3 1/2 years after the incident, Officer Stephan still was not cleared to testify regarding the incident from the DAO."

"This was a problem for Krasner's former law firm," Jacobs wrote. "Krasner's DAO (Tripp and Collins) finally cleared Officer Stephan on May 28, 2021, only so Officer Stephan could provide the civil deposition. Problem solved."

But the original facts of the case remained. 

"Nothing in the investigation changed in those years other than [the prospect of] financial compensation for defendant Crawley, who attempted to kill multiple police officers," Jacobs wrote. "The one thing that stopped him was the heroic actions of Officer Stephan."

"Now Krasner and his corrupt organization want to punish that heroism by assisting in financially compensating an attempted murderer and his former law firm," Jacobs wrote. "Can anyone say CORRUPTION?" 

Neither Krasner nor his official spokesperson, Jane Roh, responded to a request for comment. Neither did ADAs Tripp or Collins.

"There is one little problem in their plan," Jacobs wrote about the DAO and Krasner's former law firm. "The statute of limitations on attempted murder and aggravated assault in Pennsylvania is five years."

"Now that Officer Stephan is cleared to testify there is no reason not to prosecute Crawley at this point," Jacobs wrote. "When Officer Stephan inquired about prosecuting the person who tried to kill him, the corrupt DAO is not responding."

On Dec. 11, 2019, Jacobs alleges in his newest lawsuit, ADA Collins sent an email to the OISI unit requesting information on the Crawley investigation.

"In the email, Collins stated he knew it was Jacobs's investigation but he wanted the information provided from a different investigator," Jacobs wrote.

"The same day, Dec. 11, 2019, one of Krasner's publicists at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Samantha Melamed, published an article in the paper slanting the facts in defendant Crawley's direction," Jacobs wrote.

Melamed, one of the Inquirer's official "justice and injustice" reporters who typically functions as Larry Krasner's chief propagandist, wrote two stories about the shooting of Crawley.

In the first story that ran Aug. 26, 2019, Melamed, rewrote the facts of the case to say that Stephan and his partner shot an unarmed man who was running away a total of five times:

In January 2018, Philadelphia police officers stopped a car driving the wrong way up a street in Kensington, and noticed that the passenger, 22-year-old Stefon Crawley, had a gun.

Video footage of the incident, viewed by The Inquirer, shows Crawley and Officer Timothy Stephan struggling. Then, Stephan gains control of the weapon and Crawley flees. But then, Stephan shoots him, and Officer Jason Reid, who had happened upon the scene moments before, also opens fire. Between them, they shoot Crawley five times in the head and torso.

The real facts of the case are that Officer Stephan shot Crawley as he was attempting to get out of the car. Stephan only fired one shot, and he did not fire at Crawley as he was running away, as Melamed wrote. Contrary to Melamed's account, the other four shots that hit Crawley were fired by Officer Reid. 

Back to Melamed's opus:

This June, each officer was awarded a Medal of Bravery, a commendation the department reserves “for the performance of an outstanding arrest where the officer’s effort is met by an armed and dangerous adversary.”

As for Crawley, he was charged with assaulting police and with gun offenses — but, in May, the case was dismissed. According to the criminal docket, the police officers were not “cleared” to testify.

Why would the Police Department give officers a commendation for an arrest — while at the same time prosecutors are unwilling to call those officers to testify about it in criminal court? And why does the police news release on Crawley’s arrest state that Crawley was armed until police shot him, when he “dropped his firearm ... and fell to the ground,” while the video appears to show Stephan holding Crawley’s weapon before he was shot?

So many questions to answer here, Samantha. Let's start with why the prosecutors didn't clear the cops to testify in criminal court against Crawley. 

Perhaps they were corrupt and didn't want to endanger Crawley's civil claim? 

As for why the police news release stated that Crawley was armed until the police shot him, and then he "dropped his firearm . . . and fell to the ground," that's because Crawley was armed until Officer Stephan shot him once in the left leg. 

And then Crawley "dropped his firearm . . . and fell to the ground."

As Crawley admitted on April 9th in his own civil deposition, "He [Stephan] was pushing me in the car . . . he was trying to hold me back from getting out of the car."

"Ok," said John Gonzales, Stephan's lawyer. "So you were actively trying to get out of the car, is that correct?"

"Yes," Crawley responded.

"All right. And then what happened?" Gonzales asked.

"He shot me," Crawley responded.

"Where were your hands when he shot you?"

"Falling to the ground," Crawley said. "When I got out of the car and he shot me, I was falling face first to the ground so I moved my position to grab on the ground so my face didn't hit the ground."

As for Detective Jacobs, he was astonished that somebody gave Melamed access to the video in the police shooting of Crawley. 

On May 2, 2021, Jacobs wrote an email asking, "Ms. Melamed how did you see the video of my criminal investigation into the OIS [Officer Involved Shooting] of Stefon Crawley without my knowledge?"

"In 2019, I was the assigned investigator to the OIS. I would like to know who provided you access to an ongoing criminal investigation?"

On May 2nd, Melamed wrote back, "Thanks for your inquiry. I don't remember much about this article from two years ago. In any case, I am unable to provide any information about the reporting of a story beyond what appears in the story itself."

In his lawsuit, Jacobs wrote, "Maybe a subpoena would jog her memory."

Melamed, who was probably busy huddling with the D.A. to get instructions on her next pro-Krasner puff piece in the Inquirer, did not respond to a request for comment.

In her Aug. 26, 2019 story, Melamed reported that Officer Reid had been the subject of 10 complaints of physical abuse since 2009, and that the Defender Association of Philadelphia had accused Reid of repeatedly fabricating evidence to justify the use of force.

After the officer-involved shooting, the D.A.'s office convened a grand jury to investigate the actions of Stephan. Of course, Officers Stephan and Reid were not summoned to testify. Neither was Detective Jacobs.

The only known witness to appear at the grand jury was Stephan Crawley, but to date, no charges have been filed against the officer who has been promoted to sergeant. 

During his deposition, Crawley testified that he was first arrested at age 17, for possession of marijuana, and that he settled the case by paying a fine. 

In 2014, Crawley said, he was arrested for robbery in New Jersey, pleaded guilty, and served three and a half years in prison. 

He was arrested two more times since 2018 for domestic incidents, he said. The last one happened in December 2020 after his "kid's mother" filed a restraining order against him, and he was accused of violating it, Crawley testified. 

But Crawley's criminal record has since been expunged. Perhaps only our illustrious D.A. can explain why.

At his deposition, Crawley claimed that he never had a gun on him when he was pulled over by Officer Stephan, and that the driver of the car was the guy carrying the Glock. 

Crawley testified that every time he got shot he felt a burning sensation that he compared to "putting your hand on a blue flame and just keeping it there. That's what I felt, a blue fire flame, the hottest fire they got."

Crawley said that doctors had to insert a metal rod to fix his broken leg. The operation left a hole in his leg that Crawley said he could "put my finger through."

Crawley's wounds required multiple surgeries. He testified that he spent a month recovering in Temple University Hospital. He testified that he feels pain and discomfort every day, and has trouble sleeping every night.

He also feels numbness and tingling in his left arm, where two scars remain above his elbow from another bullet wound. 

Another bullet, Crawley said, struck him in the back and is still lodged in his chest. Yet another bullet struck him in the groin, which required stitches and treatment from a urologist.

At the deposition, Stephan's lawyer asked Crawley a seemingly innocuous question. 

When the criminal charges against Crawley were dropped, Gonzales asked, "Did you ever meet with any of the prosecutors or the district attorney?"

We know from past experience that as District Attorney, Larry Krasner has no hesitation about meeting personally with criminals. 

In the Sean Schellenger stabbing case, Krasner didn't have time to meet with the victim's mother, but he did spend more than three hours behind closed doors with Michael White, the accused killer, and his team of lawyers, to help coach White on how to beat the rap. 

And when Maurice Hill was busy shooting six cops, Krasner did not hesitate to hop on the phone with Hill and his lawyer and act as an amateur hostage negotiator and discuss a lenient sentence for the perp, while was still blasting away at the cops. 

When Gonzales asked about whether Crawley had met with the D.A. or any prosecutor, Crawley's lawyer, James Funt objected; then he added, "Actually, I'm going to direct him not to answer."

When Gonzales asked why, Funt replied, "That's attorney/client privilege."

"Him having a conversation with the prosecutor?" Gonzales asked incredulously. 

"Yes," Funt replied.

"Well, him having a conversation with the prosecutor is protected by attorney/client privilege?" Gonzales stated. "The prosecutor is not his lawyer. How could there be an attorney/client privilege?"

Well, anybody who knows Larry Krasner knows the answer to that question. When it comes to the rights of criminals vs. the rights of cops, we all know whose side Krasner is on.

That's why criminals call him Uncle Larry. 

During Crawley's deposition, Funt made it clear that he wasn't going to allow his client to answer the question of whether Crawley met with the D.A. or any prosecutor.

"I'm directing him not to answer," Funt stated. 

Undaunted, Gonzales asked again if Crawley had ever met with the D.A. or any prosecuting attorney. He added, "You don't have to tell  me what they said now, but did you have any type of meeting or phone conversation with the district attorney even if there were other people present?"

By this time, after multiple objections, and his lawyer instructing him not to answer the question, Crawley finally understood what his lawyer was trying to tell him. 

"I honestly don't know," Crawley responded. " I don't know. I don't think so. I don't recall. I don't know. I don't think so."

Gonzales tried one last time. He told Crawley he was not asking about the content of the conversation, but he was asking whether Crawley had ever had any such conversation with the D.A. or any prosecuting attorney.

"I don't recall," Crawley said. "I don't recall. I don't recall."

In my list of emailed questions to the D.A., I asked if Krasner or anybody else from the DAO ever met with Crawley. I also asked Krasner if he will receive a finder's fee for directing Crawley's civil case to his old law firm.

Krasner, who as a candidate, promised to run the most open and transparent D.A.'s office ever, did not respond to my requests for comment. 

As former detective Jacobs wrote in his lawsuit, "Can anyone say CORRUPTION?" 


  1. Krasner is pure evil

  2. Thank you for all you do Ralph.

  3. Ralph, Another fine piece. Coverage you will only find here at Bigtrial.

    1. Thanks, Paul. Can you believe the depths our old paper has sunk to? Krasner should be paying Melamed's salary.

  4. Krasner needs to be put in the flaming pits where he will join all he degenerates who did their heinous crimes!

  5. Good work, yet again, Ralph. I don't know how you can put up with this degenerate and his despicable behavior. Be strong, the people need you.

  6. What an outrage! Thanks Ralph.

  7. The penn. supreme court's ruling in the cosby case means larry krasner's misconduct in offering a plea deal during the Maurice Hill incident will very possibly be legally binding.

    When is the disciplinary board going to go after this clown? Or is the inquirer not the only institution beholden to him and his entourage?

    1. Yes! The silence of the Disciplinary Board is deafening!

    2. The Bar Association facilitates the SCAM.

      Krasner's Former Law Partners should be disqualified from Representing any Cases that the DA is involved in.

  8. Summer is most o Dr and I haven't seen any political adds yet. If the anti Krasner special interest groups would only throw money into the campaign like the anti Trump people did maybe this clown would be voted out. Can't wait until he looses the Play's steak trial.


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