Officer cleared in fatal shooting of armed suspect Lt. Jonathan D. Josey II fatally shot the man on March 19, the Montco district attorney said.

Posted: April 01, 2010

Philadelphia Police Lt. Jonathan D. Josey II was off work when he walked into a City Avenue 7-Eleven store during a predawn armed robbery March 19, but he did his duty in chasing the suspect into a fatal confrontation, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Almost two weeks after Josey, 38, shot and killed Kenneth DeShields, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said Josey, a 17-year police veteran assigned to the highway patrol, behaved justifiably.

Josey will face no charges for what Ferman called "a sad situation" in which DeShields, 37, an Iraq war veteran, was shot to death after attempting a robbery four days after going AWOL from his Army unit in Colorado.

"From what I could tell, [DeShields] was really struggling with some emotional issues," Ferman said, without elaborating.

Prosecutors on Wednesday released a newly detailed account of the encounter that ended DeShields' life.

Josey, a regular customer of the 7-Eleven near City Avenue and 54th Street in Bala Cynwyd, was in civilian clothes and carrying his personal handgun, a Glock .45, at 2:30 a.m. when he walked into the store. DeShields was standing behind the counter with a clerk, who recognized Josey as a police officer and gestured subtly that things were not right.

After Josey said he was an officer, DeShields tucked his own gun - a 9mm Smith & Wesson - into his waistband and ran. He had not gotten into the cash register and escaped with only some merchandise, which Ferman could not describe in detail. Josey ran after, shouting, "Police, stop" and "Don't pull it out" when DeShields reached toward his waistband.

DeShields' "aggressive movements" continued, according to the statement from prosecutors, and Josey fired six times. Two shots hit DeShields in the torso, and he collapsed in a nearby St. Joseph's University parking lot off North 53d Street.

DeShields was pronounced dead at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania at 3:45 a.m., and Josey went on administrative leave that day.

Josey was eligible to return to active duty after he was cleared Wednesday, Philadelphia police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore said.

DeShields' mother declined to comment.

According to one law enforcement source who did not want to be identified, the incident was not the first time Josey was involved in a shooting.

Vanore said the department does not identify officers who are involved in shootings unless the officer is injured. He declined to comment on whether Josey had discharged his weapon in the past.

Records indicate that Josey has been accused of wrongdoing while on duty at least once.

In June 2007, the city paid $7,500 to settle a lawsuit which alleged that Josey threw a man against a wall on Rugby Street, then kicked and punched the man, while looking for a fellow officer's stolen gun.

Josey did not respond to cell-phone and e-mail requests for comment.

Oon Facebook, where he lists himself as a "fan" of the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, Josey posted Wednesday that he "likes" the announcement that he has been cleared of wrongdoing in DeShields' death.

Contact staff writer Derrick Nunnally at 610-313-8212 or dnunnally@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writers Jeff Shields and Allison Steele contributed to this article.

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