Philippe Holland had been working two jobs in Philadelphia, one as a pizza delivery driver for Slices & More, the other at an airport restaurant. For his last delivery on Tuesday night, a cheeseburger deluxe, the delivery was so small that he didn’t carry his pizza delivery bag. Had he known that he would be shot by police three times a few moments later, the hoodie-wearing 20-year-old most likely would have carried the bag.
Holland delivered the cheeseburger late Tuesday night and walked back to his gold Ford Taurus, his hoodie was up and his hands were in his pockets. Two plainclothes officers who were responding to a gunshot call a few blocks away approached him. The officers asked Holland to stop, but Holland didn’t stop. In fact, he rushed to his car and started hurriedly driving. It is believed Holland thought he was being robbed.
The officers, who were not wearing uniforms at the time and had been in an unmarked car, claim that they identified themselves as police when they asked Holland to stop. They also claim that Holland “drove at a high rate of speed towards the officers”. It is possible that Holland didn’t hear the officers identify themselves, and it’s possible the officers did not identify themselves as police until after Holland was rushing away, if at all.
The two officers then shot at Holland, in his car, as he was driving away. Holland was shot at least three times, in the neck, leg, and head. Doctors believe Holland could be permanently blind after one of the shots damaged his eyesight. Holland’s vehicle was shot 14 times.
Lt. John Stanford, police spokesperson, stated that the officers may have violated the department’s use-of-force guidelines when they shot at Holland’s vehicle. The officers had admitted that they had not seen Holland with a gun, and the guidelines clearly state that officers “shall not discharge their firearms at or from a moving vehicle unless deadly physical force is being used against the police officer or another person present, by means other than the moving vehicle.”
“That is our policy, ‘Don’t shoot at moving vehicles’ – it’s clearly laid out that way,” Stanford elaborated. “But I wasn’t there, so I can’t say whether these officers were right or wrong, what their process of thinking was, whether they were in fear for their lives or not.” Stanford believes the two police may have stood in front of Holland’s car in an attempt to stop him, a move he describes as “not tactically sound”.
The two officers have been placed on desk duty as they await the results of an internal affairs investigation. One has been on the force for less than five years while the other has been there for one year.
Only time will tell whether criminal charges are pressed against the police, although the two are describes as “feeling terrible”. Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said, "It's just unfortunate all around, and we're just praying that this young man is able to fully recover."