[Hpn] They're irked by ruling in homeless man's death;Philadelphia Daily News;6/19/01

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Tue, 19 Jun 2001 13:05:49 -0400


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Tuesday, June 19, 2001
Philadelphia Daily News <http://dailynews.philly.com>
City & Local News section
They're irked by ruling in homeless man's death

Protesters believe that Amtrak officer should face charges in the shooting


An angry crowd of about 50 called for a federal probe into the killing of an 
unarmed, mentally ill homeless man by Amtrak officers last July.

Mental-health and homeless advocates who picketed outside Philadelphia 
District Attorney Lynne Abraham's office yesterday afternoon said the 
officer who shot Robert Brown should be held accountable for his death.

Abraham last week decided not to charge the officer, saying Officer Dennis 
Kelly, a 12-year Amtrak police veteran, had shot Brown in self-defense.

But Joseph Rogers, president of the Mental Health Association of 
Southeastern Pennsylvania, who organized the protest, disagreed.

"There's enough questions surrounding this case that the evidence needs to 
be presented in front of a jury. The police action is questionable, and I 
think the community feels that way. We want justice, and Lynne Abraham 
didn't give us that," Rogers said.

Late yesterday, Rogers mailed a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, 
asking Chief Albert Moskowitz to investigate.

Moskowitz heads the criminal section of the department's Civil Rights 
Division, the same office that prosecuted the Los Angeles police officers 
involved in the Rodney King case.

U.S. Attorney Michael Levy of Eastern District of Pennsylvania declined to 

Kelly shot Brown, 45, in the chest after he raised a 16-pound chair over his 
head and threw it at Lt. Walter Wahle at the 30th Street Station. The shot 
was fatal, killing Brown and prompting an investigation headed by Abraham.

Doris Washington of the Coalition Advocating for Disability Rights and 
Empowerment, a statewide nonprofit organization that fights for the civil 
rights of disabled people and their families, also questioned Abraham's 

"Abraham's decision was unfair. Brown had a chair, the officers had a gun. I 
think they made an uninformed decision on someone who's mentally ill. 
Besides, they could have shot him somewhere else," she said.

Sister Mary Scullion called it a miscarriage of justice.

"It seems to me that people who are poor, homeless or mentally ill don't get 
the same kind of status or power as other people in the eyes of the law," 
she said.

Scullion is the director of Project Home, a nonprofit organization that 
helps homeless people in the city. Since January, she's been taking part in 
a task force organized by Police Commissioner John Timoney to examine other 
methods of crisis-intervention programs seen around the country.

The task force is planning to present a program to Timoney that can be 
implemented by the city's police to prevent cases like Brown's.

Scullion said the task force was set to make a recommendation within six 


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Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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