Activists in Philadelphia are still looking for answers for the death of 30-year-old David Jones. Jones was killed by Philadelphia Police Officer Ryan Pownall on June 8, 2017 after he was approached for riding a dirt bike. Jones, who is black, was shot in the back by the white officer Pownall. The same officer Pawnall that shoot Carnell Williams-Carney, paralyzing him in 2010. That shooting was ruled justified. Both Jones and Carney were shot while running away.
Asa Khalif of Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania and Isaac Gardner, a Justice for David Jones coalition leader, have participated in powerful protests and do not mince words. They want justice for David Jones. Period. No excuses. They use a focused, brutally honest style of activism, speaking truth, unfiltered and unapologetic.
Gardner and Khalif took over a City Council press conference on Aug 8, 2017 and directed members of the council to speak directly to Jones’s family, Gardner and Khalif approached City Council President Darrell Clarke at the podium. Clarke seemed shocked when Khalif stated they would shut the press conference down.
“You’re not serious” Clarke said. Khalif responded “I’m serious, I’m very serious, I’m so serious, I’m here.”
Clark said he wanted a proper investigation but Khalif and Gardener asked for his personal opinion, on the record.
“As a black man, and as a man who grew up in northern Philadelphia, there are a lot of problems with this shooting,” said Council President Clarke, who then got off topic and lost the confidence of Khalif and Gardner.
“David Jones’ life mattered. This is what we’re doing with Black Lives Matter, we’re shutting things down because black people are being abused by law-enforcement and coon negroes won’t speak up about it,” Khalif said, to council president Clarke and a room full of reporters.
“You all should be outraged too. This was a black woman, who has worked in this city. Who pays her taxes. She deserves answers. His children deserve answers. His brothers and sisters, who marched with us deserve answers. His neighbors deserve answers. We want justice for David Jones”
Before declaring the press conference occupied and shut down by Black Lives Matter PA, Khalif explained to the council president: “The fact is, Darrell Clarke, you have a responsibility to your neighborhood, you have a responsibility to community, you have a responsibility to your people.”
After answering a couple questions from a reporter, the meeting was shut down with Gardner calling out the reporter for asking stupid questions and Khalif declaring “Interview is over.”
They then chanted as the room cleared out.
Gardner and Khalif did not know Jones or each other prior to the shooting. Khalif’s cousin, Brandon Tate Brown, was killed by an officer from the same police department in 2015. At one point, Khalif offered a $5,000 reward for the name of the cop who shot Brown. Gardner wasn’t previously involved in activism but became concerned by the surveillance video of Jones being killed when it played on NBC 10. Gardner posted a recording of the video online with commentary describing how the shooting looked unjustified. NBC 10 received complaints and stopped showing the video on air, but Gardner’s video is still available online.
Surveillance video of the shooting contradicts officer Pownall’s description of events. In the video, Jones is seen running down the street as he’s shot in the back from a distance of about 30 feet.
Jones was being frisked by Pownall when he threw a gun down and ran. Pownall then fired his taser at Jones, but it didn’t take him down, he then switched to his gun and began firing. By this point, Jones was 30 feet away and unarmed, Pownall ran up to Jones, and then back to his vehicle saying “He had a f-ing gun” – but the gun was laying on the ground, near the vehicle, according to a witness who chooses to remain anonymous.
Khalif and Gardner, along with other activists held a protest in officer Pownall’s suburban, white neighborhood. They gathered directly in front of his house and used a bullhorn to call for his arrest. Neighbors came out and dozens of police lined the sidewalk. Exchanges between the neighbors and activists showed different perceptions of the shooting.
Pownell’s neighbor from across the street came out to confront Khalif and the others, telling them to go back to their own neighborhood and called Jones a criminal with a gun. Jones was unarmed at the time he was shot, a point multiple neighbors refused to acknowledge. Khalif and Gardner spoke on injustice and racism, keeping the focus on David Jones and his family.
November 13, 2017 Khalif was arrested while livestreaming from outside the Philadelphia Attorney General’s office. A window fell out of a security door as security was letting another man enter. Khalif was knocking on the door at the time, but the window appeared to be loose or easily removed. He was slammed against the wall in a choke hold, handcuffed and arrested. Khalif was released the following morning and Gardner filmed the entire incident.
The investigation was sent to the Pa. Attorney General because an unknown conflict of interest. Around the time Jones was shot, the District Attorney in Philadelphia had been forced to resign, leaving a temporary District Attorney in place until November’s election.
At the City Council meeting in August, it was stated that the investigation was sent to the AG (just in case) there was a conflict of interest. The 2010 shooting of Carnell Williams-Carney was not sent to the Attorney General. That shooting involved the same officer, had similar circumstances and the city found the use of deadly force justified. Why wasn’t a possible conflict preemptively avoided in the Williams-Carney investigation? It appears that the city council doubts the local investigation process, but won’t state why or who is the problem.
If you’re an elected official in Philadelphia, expect to see Khalif and Gardner. Justice For David Jones.
If you want more independent reporting like this, please support Eric and TATM with a donation– Every $1 helps us grow!