Philadelphia police officer shot and killed - Philadelphia News

February 16, 2009 11:30:52 AM PST
Officer John Pawlowski was shot and killed in the Olney section of the city the night before Valentine's Day."It is my sad duty to report on the death of Philadelphia Police Officer John Pawlowski who was killed in the line of duty today, February 13," Commissioner Charles Ramsey said as he began the press conference.

View the Law Enforcement Deaths Report from 2008

25-year-old John Pawlowski was shot and killed Friday night at approximately 8:44 p.m., despite wearing a bulletproof vest.

At about 8:20 p.m., Officer Pawlowski and his partner, Officer Klein, responded to a call pertaining to a person with a weapon at Broad and Olney.

"From what we have now from witnesses, there was a disturbance at that location," Ramsey went on to say.

The disturbance, according to officials, included one individual threatening another, described as a cab driver, asking the other 'how much money he had.'

The suspect has been identified as Rasheed Scrugs.

During the fight, the cab driver said he was going to call police, and Scrugs responded, "If you call the police, I'm going to shoot you and I'm going to shoot any officers that respond to the scene," homicide Capt. James Clark said at a news conference Saturday.

When police arrived, they asked Scrugs to take his hands out of the long jacket he was wearing but he didn't comply, Clark said. He then fired several shots from a gun inside his jacket.

Pawlowski, whose wife is expecting the couple's first child, was hit several times, including one shot that struck him above the vest and another that hit him in the side. He fired a single shot before he went down.

Two other officers began firing at the suspect, hitting him several times. Scrugs remained in critical condition at a hospital Saturday, and was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and other counts, police said.

"We're just deeply, deeply saddened we've lost another officer who was murdered on our streets," police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.

Scrugs has a lengthy rap sheet that includes arrests for armed robbery, auto theft and firearms violations, police said. He served five years in state prison from 1997 to 2002, and then violated his parole and served six more months. He also had an open case for auto theft.

"It makes absolutely no sense that we've got people with this mind set walking the streets, not only endangering police officers but the public at large," Ramsey said. "Lock them up. Throw away the key. ... There are some people that are just not salvageable, period."

A .357 Magnum was recovered at the scene.

Several rounds of ammunition were found in the suspect's pocket, as well as suspected crack cocaine.

"This is a very sad night in the city, we are all mourning the death of Officer Pawlowski," Mayor Michael Nutter said.

Officials say Officer Pawlowski transferred from the 6th District to the 35th District because he wanted to be even busier during his worktime.

Pawlowski leaves behind his wife Kim, his three brothers, a sister, and his parents.

One of Pawlowski's brother is a corporal in the police radio room and was on duty when he heard the call about his brother being shot, Lt. Frank Vanore said Saturday.

Officer Pawlowski's father is a retired lieutenant of the Philadelphia Police.

"This is like a recurring nightmare," Vanore said. "It just never stops."

Officer Pawlowski was a 5 1/2 year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department.

He is the sixth officer killed in the line of duty within the last 16 months.

A hearse brought the body of the fallen officer to the medical examiner's after 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning.

The man involved in the earlier dispute is only desrcibed as a cab driver as stated above. As for the suspect in the case, Commissioner Ramsey says he is not a cabbie, but says, he's "just a thug."

Pawlowski was a member of the 35th District.

In May, 39-year-old Officer Stephen Liczbinski was fatally shot responding to a bank robbery. In September, 40-year-old Officer Isabel Nazario was killed during a vehicle pursuit when the patrol car she was riding in was broadsided by a teenager driving a stolen SUV. Also in September, 30-year-old Officer Patrick McDonald was fatally shot by a fugitive he had chased down after a traffic stop.

Last year, four Philadelphia officers were killed in the line of duty.

In November, Sgt. Timothy Simpson died after his cruiser was broadsided by a vehicle whose driver was allegedly fleeing police.

In October 2007, Officer Chuck Cassidy, 54, was fatally shot when he interrupted a robbery at a Dunkin' Donuts. Cassidy had worked in the same district as Pawlowski.

In May 2006, Officer Gary Skerski became the first officer killed in the line of duty in Philadelphia in a decade.

Mayor Michael A. Nutter has issued the following statement on the death of Officer John Pawlowski:

Yet another brave Philadelphia Police Officer has been killed in the line of duty this very sad evening.

My thoughts and prayers are with Officer John Pawlowski's family ? his wife Kim and their unborn child; his three brothers Bob, Chris, and Vince; his sister Lauren; and his father John. Let them and the Philadelphia Police Department know that they have the support of the entire City of Philadelphia in this unimaginably difficult time.

Our deep sorrow is mixed with anger and disbelief. When a Philadelphia Police Officer is killed in the line of duty, it is a loss that is felt by all Philadelphians. We are a family, and tonight we have lost another son.

John Pawlowski was a hero. We are humbled by his service. Officer Pawlowski's duty was to protect and serve us all. We must honor his memory with an unwillingness to surrender our city and a determination to bring to justice those who make us unsafe and terrorize our neighborhoods. We will not rest until our streets are safe for citizens and the police officers who protect us.

Please let us also remember tonight Officer Skerski, Officer Cassidy, Sergeant Liczbinski, Officer Nazario, Sergeant McDonald, Sergeant Simpson, and others killed in the line of duty.

I have given the order for all City flags to be flown at half staff to mark an official 30 day period of mourning.

Click here to submit your photos of Officer John Pawlowski

Click here to watch Mayor Nutter's and Commissioner Ramsey's press conference.

Click here to watch the procession from Einstein Medical Center to the Medical Examiner's.

Click here for slides from the scene of Broad & Olney, as well as of the procession to the medical examiner's. Click here for a look back at some of Philadelphia's most recent fallen officers.

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PATRICK WALTERS of the Associated Press contributed to this article.

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