Monday, May 23, 2022

Who Shot Amanda? D.A. Frees 3 Armed & Dangerous Suspects

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Last May, Philly cops went on a high-profile manhunt for a gunman who shot two people on the Hancock Playground in Kensington.

A 16-year-old male who apparently was the target of a street gang hit, was shot in the shoulder; a 36-year-old year-old female who was an innocent bystander, was shot in the back. 

For Amanda Lyons, an occupational therapist who's an assistant professor at Thomas Jefferson University, the consequences were tragic -- the bullet severed her spinal cord.

"I  couldn't feel my legs," Lyons told 6ABC after the May 19, 2021 shooting.  In seconds, the woman who was playing kickball in the park with friends was left a paraplegic for life. 

“I’m still mourning the loss of my old self,” said Lyons, who was confined to a wheelchair when she talked to the Inquirer last December. “I still wake up and am like, is this nightmare over? Was this all a nightmare?” 

For the cops, hunting the playground shooter has also been a nightmare. The case began with some circumstantial photo and video evidence that the cops believed was sufficient enough to implicate three juvenile gang members. 

The cops, armed with an affidavit for probable cause, sought a warrant from the D.A.'s office to arrest the three gang members for the playground shooting. But the D.A.'s office declined to charge the suspects.

Then, the cops used a search warrant to raid a house where they found two of the three original suspects along with a couple of illegal guns. Once again, the cops sought a warrant to arrest the three gang members for the playground shooting. 

But once again, the D.A.'s office under Larry Krasner declined to issue an arrest warrant. Instead, the D.A. requested more evidence, such as the suspects' DNA and cell phones. 

"A Good Job"

None of the cops felt good about watching the suspects go free.

"We gave it our best shot and Krasner declined it," one disgusted cop said. "You roll the dice when you leave these violent juveniles out on the street. All of those kids are extremely violent psychopaths."

"The D.A.'s office totally dropped the ball on that case 100%," said another cop source. "There was enough circumstantial evidence there to make an arrest. Everybody's disgusted because it's a good job."

Over at the D.A.'s office, nobody's talking. 

As has been the custom for the past 34 months, whenever Big Trial asks a question, the D.A.'s office under Krasner, who promised to be the most transparent Philly D.A. ever, doesn't even bother to respond to a request for comment.

Neither does Jane Roh, a department spokesperson.

But a veteran prosecutor who reviewed police records in the case -- somebody who's no fan of Larry Krasner's -- said that the evidence gathered by the cops amounted to an "extremely weak circumstantial case."

In the opinion of the veteran prosecutor, the cops were making excuses by blaming Krasner's office, rather than digging up more evidence to convict the three juveniles. 

The cops, however, respond that they had gathered all the circumstantial evidence that was out there, and absent a confession, there wasn't anything else that could be done to build a case against the three suspects.

A Dysfunctional Relationship

So a year later, the big question in the unsolved case of who shot Amanda Lyons is who's to blame, the cops or the prosecutors? Or both?

If you look beyond the finger-pointing, it's clear that the cops and the prosecutors in Larry Krasner's office have a dysfunctional relationship. They don't work together and they don't trust each other. 

Another reason for the dysfunctional relationship: there's nobody left in the D.A.'s office who knows what they're doing. 

When Krasner first took office in January 2018, he immediately fired 31 senior prosectors. Many other veterans left before the new D.A. even got there, because they didn't want to work with him.

As D.A., Krasner has no idea what he's doing. As a career criminal defense lawyer of 30 years, he never prosecuted a traffic stop. As a defense lawyer who ran a boutique firm that catered to drug dealers and radical fringe causes, Krasner never had to be the administrator of a large staff, such as the D.A.'s office in Philadelphia, which has 300 lawyers.

As D.A., Krasner has surrounded himself with a constantly changing staff composed of mostly rookie prosecutors who were either recruited fresh out of law school, or from the ranks of young former public defenders, who typically have the opposite mindset required for a prosecutor.

Carlos Vega, a career homicide prosecutor for 30 years who lost to Krasner in the Democratic primary for D.A., said he spent five years in the D.A.'s office learning how to prosecute cases before his bosses would trust him to try a murder case. 

But under D.A. Krasner, rookie prosecutors are immediately rushed to the front.

Krasner's prosecutors are also poorly trained. In 2018, Krasner hired criminal justice reformer and TED talk star Adam Foss to come to Philadelphia for nine weeks to train Krasner's impressionable new ADAs. 

Foss's unconventional training methods included a field trip to visit a prison, to talk to men who were given life sentences as teenagers, and a sleepover for prosecutors at a homeless shelter.

In 2020, Foss became the subject of a criminal investigation announced by the county D.A.'s office in Boston, where he used to work, after he was publicly accused by several women of being a serial predator and rapist who was knowingly spreading STDs. 

That was Larry Krasner's idea of a role model for prosecutors.

An investigation overseen last year by Rachael Rollins, the county D.A. in Boston, concluded that Foss's behavior was "troubling" but did not constitute criminal conduct.

In Philadelphia, Krasner famously proclaimed that "The coach gets to pick the team." 

But many of the rookie prosecutors personally recruited by Krasner in a nation-wide talent hunt that involved the D.A. barnstorming law schools across the country, have since abandoned ship. 

As of Nov. 3, 2021, Big Trial found that 61 out of 181 new lawyers that Krasner had personally recruited and hired -- or some 34% -- had already left the Philly D.A.'s office. 

Additionally, 37 of those 181 new lawyers that Krasner hired straight out of law school, or another 17%, flunked the bar exam, so they couldn't go to court.

The exodus from the D.A.'s office continues. 

Last month, the Legal Intelligencer published figures obtained through Right-To-Know requests that showed that showed that between January 2021 and March 16, 2022, some 120 lawyers had departed from the D.A.'s office.
 
That total includes some 50 ADAs who've left in the past five months.

A former ADA complained to reporter Aleeza Furman about a toxic work environment. The ADA told Furman that Krasner's rookie prosecutors were given large caseloads but little support or preparation before going to trial. 

The former ADA also told Furman that the departures of so many senior attorneys had left Krasner's D.A.'s office with "very little institutional knowledge."

On top of the staff turnover, in the summer of 2020, the D.A. and the police commissioner with much fanfare announced a new collaboration between cops and prosecutors that turned out to be a flop.

The experiment involved the D.A.'s office assigning individual prosecutors to police detective units around the city, to supposedly work side-by-side with cops to prosecute illegal gun cases.

At the time, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, another rookie who has no idea what she's doing, hailed the new collaboration as a way to make both agencies "more proactive" in fighting gun violence.

"Having ADAs assigned to each district, and present in our weekly shooting reviews, allows for them to have complete situational awareness around key police prevention and enforcement strategies, cases we present to them for charging, and themes and patterns we are seeing among victims and offenders when it comes to violent crime," Outlaw told Big Trial on July 21, 2020 in a blizzard of buzzwords.

But on Oct. 1, 2021, KYW reported that Police Commissioner Outlaw was complaining that the D.A., her "partner in law enforcement," had abruptly ended the new collaboration by withdrawing all  prosecutors assigned to detective units around the city, without giving any warning or prior notice to the embarrassed police commissioner. 

A spokesperson for the D.A. told KYW that the prosecutors had been "temporarily reassigned" because of a backlog of cases. 

A cop source described the attempt at collaboration as a "waste of time" because the prosecutors assigned to the detective units didn't have the power to charge any cases, such as the shooting of Amanda Lyons.

Three Gang Members Arrested

A year after Amanda Lyons was shot, all three gang members that the cops originally suspected of being involved in the Hancock Playground shooting are finally in custody, but the cops aren't happy about it. 

That's because all three of the original suspects weren't arrested for the playground shooting. Instead, they were charged with committing other violent crimes, after they allegedly went out and injured or killed more victims. The new victims included another juvenile who was shot in the head, and a woman who was killed after a high-speed chase involving a stolen car.

Meanwhile, the shooting of Amanda Lyons remains an unsolved crime. And according to a couple of cop sources, it might stay that way.

In January, Police Commissioner Outlaw announced another new crime-fighting initiative, the formation of a new non-fatal shooting unit that would be staffed by 40 detectives.

But with new shootings piling up, cops are concerned that the new nonfatal shooting unit might have little incentive to solve old shootings, such as the case of Amanda Lyons. The cops say they fear that in the Lyons case, no one may ever be brought to justice for the tragedy that has left a young physical therapist crippled for life.

In Philadelphia, that's sadly the norm for the vast majority of non-fatal shooting cases.

According to the "100 Shooting Review Committee Report" that was a joint effort between the City Council, the D.A.'s office and the Philadelphia Police Department, as well as other city agencies, out of 1,693 non-fatal shootings last year, only 14% resulted in an arrest. 

That means the other 86% of those nonfatal shootings went unsolved, as in the case of Amanda Lyons.

"A Person With A Gun"

At approximately 9:17 p.m. on May 19, 2021, police received a radio call for help emanating from the Hancock Playground about a "person with a gun."

The cops recovered five .40 caliber spent cartridges on the playground. Surveillance video depicted three black males entering the playground together. Then, one of the males started firing, striking the two victims. 

The cops were told the playground shooting was the result of a dispute between two rival gangs. The three assailants were said to be from 4th and Diamond gang; the 16 year-old male who was shot in the shoulder was said to be from the 8th and Diamond gang. 

A highway patrol officer responding to the scene interviewed a witness who saw a Black Kia SUV with a partial tag of KTA speed away from the crime scene on Hancock Avenue. The highway patrol officer searched a police database and discovered that a vehicle matching that description had been stolen the day before at the corner of Broad and Cecil B. Moore Avenue.

On May 21, 2021, the same highway patrol officer recovered the stolen vehicle that had been abandoned at 1500 Boston Street. The car was towed to a police garage where it was tested for fingerprints and DNA.  

Witnesses told the police that one of the juvenile assailants, Eric Bradshaw, was in possession of a black Kia at the time of the playground shooting. 

The original owner of the stolen black Kia told the police that he had left his cell phone in the car, before the thieves drove his car away. And when he recovered his cell phone, the owner discovered that it had been used to record photos and videos depicting several young males inside the stolen Kia.

Another photo on the stolen cell phone showed a small-built black male in a red sweatshirt posing inside the Hancock Playground. That corresponded with what a witness to the playground shooting had told police earlier, that one of the assailants was a small black male wearing a red sweatshirt.

The clothing the three males wore in the photos and videos recorded on the stolen cell phone, police said, matched the clothing worn by the three assailants on the surveillance video recovered from the Hancock Playground. According to a police report, the cops used facial recognizance software to identify two of three suspects, Mekhi Jones, who was wearing a red sweatshirt with distinct markings, and Eric Bradshaw. 

The third suspect, Savide Washington, who was depicted on the stolen cell phone videos, was known to one of the cops who investigated the playground shooting. Washington was photographed wearing a two-tone black and gray New Balance Brand jacket. On surveillance video from the playground shooting, according to a police report, Washington was wearing a similar jacket.

In other videos obtained by police, Savide Washington was holding a handgun with an extended magazine and a live round in the chamber.

The cops charged the suspects with attempted murder, aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, two VUFA charges, simple assault and reckless endangerment. 

But the D.A.'s office refused to prosecute the case, saying they wanted more evidence.

"This is the common theme with Krasner's charging unit," one cop source said. "He [Krasner] wants everything up front. Krasner and his chiefs want perfect cases before they issue an arrest warrant, but things don't always work out that way."

So the cops decided to try again. This time, they went out and got a warrant to search the homes of all three suspects. The Special Investigations Unit was involved in executing the search warrant; so were the members of a SWAT team.

When the cops stormed his house, Savide Washington wasn't there.

But on July 23, 2021, when the cops executed a search warrant at Mehki Jones's house at 2429 Carlisle Street, they not only found Jones inside, but also Washington. The cops also discovered two 9 mm handguns, one with an extended magazine and a live round in it. 

Neither gun had a serial number. But according to ballistics tests, the cops determined that both guns had been used nine months earlier in a prior shooting.

But once again, the D.A.'s office wouldn't issue any arrest warrants. Once again, the D.A.'s office wanted more evidence.

"They wouldn't even charge him with having the guns in the house," the cop source complained.

The veteran prosecutor who reviewed police records in the case said that even if the D.A.'s office declines to issue an arrest warrant, it's the job of an assistant district attorney to keep pushing for an arrest.

"Is there something we can charge him with on another crime?" the prosecutor asked. "You don't just throw up your hands and tell police to go look for more evidence."

"You sometimes have to get creative and push on another crime," the prosecutor said, knowing that this guy is a public danger" who needs to be taken off the street.

The Three Gang Members Finally In Custody

Mekhi Jones, 17, was arrested as an adult on Feb. 3rd, and charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, conspiracy, simple assault, reckless endangerment, and two firearms charges.

According to the cops, after Jones was released for allegedly stealing a car, he was arrested for allegedly shooting another juvenile in the head.

His bail was set on Feb. 4th at $500,000 monetary. On April 12, it was raised to $1 million monetary. 

Eric Bradshaw, the cops say, was arrested as a juvenile for allegedly stealing a car and attempting to shoot an officer. He was placed on a GPS monitoring bracelet at his home in Upper Darby. After cops obtained a search warrant, they recovered marijuana, cash and 17 guns from the house that Bradshaw was living in.

Police also recovered several pit bulls from Bradshaw's home that they said had been bred for dogfighting. 

Since Bradshaw was charged as a juvenile, he was released back to the same house, the cops said.

Savide Washington, 14, was arrested as a juvenile on April 15, at 4:24 p.m. in the 100 block of East Cumberland Street after a high-speed chase that he was involved in ended in a crash that killed a woman identified on police records as Jane Doe.

At the time, police were responding to a call about an armed carjacking. 

According to police records, after the crash, a thin black male wearing a black hood was seen exiting the driver's side of a stolen vehicle. The victim that Washington crashed into was found in the front seat of her car, and was pronounced dead at the scene by a medic.

The suspect fled the scene but was apprehended at the corner of Kensington Avenue and Huntingdale Street.

He was charged with murder, manslaughter, homicide by vehicle, driving without a license, reckless endangerment, and driving at a reckless, unsafe speed. 

Police said the vehicle Washington was driving had been stolen the day before. And that Washington was a suspect in a dozen crimes that mostly involve carjackings.

"He's riding around in a stolen car and he crashes and kills somebody," a cop said. "It was completely preventable if he'd been charged with the shooting" from the Hancock Playground.

Since all three suspects are in custody and charged with other crimes, cops say, the possibility exists that one of the three might want to come forward to cooperate.

But the veteran prosecutor says that's unlikely.

Why? Because they're all juveniles. And they all know that with Larry Krasner as D.A., the most serious sentence they're looking at is one to two years in a juvenile facility.

Then, they'll be right back on the street. So what's the incentive to rat somebody out?

Big Trial was unable to confirm rumors that the police had returned to the D.A.'s office since they were turned down last year and once again sought arrest warrants.

In the absence of any new evidence in the case, the veteran prosecutor said that in his opinion, both the cops and the prosecutors "share the blame equally" for not being able to solve the crime of who shot Amanda Lyons.

But, the veteran prosecutor admitted, there are "no attorneys left in the D.A.'s office who have the requisite experience" to prosecute a case like this.

In Larry Krasner's D.A.s office, the veteran prosecutor said, none of the rookie prosecutors have "amassed the requisite skills to be a good prosecutor and a good investigator in assisting the police department" in gathering more evidence that would finally solve the case of who shot Amanda Lyons.

12 comments

  1. Larry you are going to hell. Nobody deserves it more.

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    Replies
    1. Jim Kenney blames systemic racism for this white lady's issues.

      Delete
  2. HEY LARRY!
    It's sad that the waste of flesh DA does not realize that progressive, Soros backed, people like him are destroying the major cities throughout the country. No wonder the police department is losing good cops and cannot find enough people that want to work in a city overrun with out of control critters.
    One would think that the mayor and police commissioner along with city council would put the pressure on Larry boy to get his house in order and stop being part of the problem. This however will not happen since most of the politicians are as corrupt as the three stooges.

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    Replies
    1. What's especially disgusting is gentrification has not only kept up but exploded despite all of this violence and out of control crime.

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  3. Thomas JeffersonMay 23, 2022 at 11:56 PM

    The government you elect is the government you deserve.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Put P/O Jeter aka DJ on the case!! Ooooops he is too busy shopping at Trader Joe's on City time!! Right under Rocks nose!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And in Cherry Hill. Jim Kenney likes Margate. Fewer Italians and Catholics there. He hates them the most.

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    2. Heard he’s working on his push ups and crunchies to try for swat again lol

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  5. Do the "crime friendly" prosecutors get a manual from larry explaining exactly how badly they need to screw up a particular case to meet the high standards of the larry krasner justice reform stupidity quest? Or do they just improv it?

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  6. If Mayor Kenny is handing out 1/2M payments to family members whose member was justifiably shot to death by police officers, then the Mayor can step up like a man to pay for the physical therapists paralysis for the rest of her life because off the DA's refusal to prosecute those who shot her.

    ReplyDelete

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