Police: Off-duty cop, attacked while breaking up fight, fatally shoots man

Posted: November 23, 2009

An off-duty police officer from the department's Civil Affairs Unit who tried to break up a large street fight Saturday night shot and killed a man who was allegedly part of the melee, police said.

The 43-year-old officer, who was not identified, was attending a family function at a home on Elkhart Street near Almond in the city's Port Richmond section when a fight involving 20 to 40 people broke out on that street around 11 p.m., Lt. Frank Vanore, police spokesman, said.

What started the brawl was not known, he said.

The officer went outside and in an attempt to break up and disperse the fight, identified himself as a cop, Vanore said.

Instead of complying with the officer's repeated requests, a group of men involved in the brawl turned and assaulted the officer, according to police.

While under attack, the officer pulled his personal weapon and fired once, striking 21-year-old William Panas in the chest, Vanore said.

Panas, of Port Richmond, was taken to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:33 p.m.

The officer, who suffered minor injuries, was placed on desk duty while an investigation is conducted by the District Attorney's Office and Internal Affairs, Vanore said.

He was not aware of anyone in the crowd who was facing charges in relation to the incident.

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