North Philly neighbors angry after police shot man

Hasana H. (left) and Salima Hawthorne hold a picture of Kwende Williams, who was shot by police.
Hasana H. (left) and Salima Hawthorne hold a picture of Kwende Williams, who was shot by police.
Posted: April 16, 2011

On a North Philadelphia street early Thursday night, residents welcomed unseasonably warm temperatures as neighborhood kids played nearby.

In "the drop of a penny," as one neighbor put it, the scene at Newkirk Street and Huntingdon Avenue changed dramatically to one of chaos between Philadelphia police and residents. Both sides can agree on the following facts: Kwende Williams, 20, was shot by police. He had been carrying a gun.

That's about all they agree on.

Police spokesman Lt. Raymond Evers said that about 6 p.m., Williams "produced a revolver, an officer drew his firearm and after the male pointed the gun at the officer, the officer fired three times at the suspect."

"After he was shot, he discarded his weapon, witnessed by police officers, in a lot nearby," Evers said. The gun, which he described as a Smith and Wesson .38-caliber revolver, was found in "very, very close proximity" to Williams, he said.

Five bullets and one spent round were found in the revolver, Evers said.

Williams was found in possession of marijuana and pills, he said.

Police Internal Affairs and the District Attorney's Office are investigating the shooting.

Williams was in stable condition at Temple University Hospital, but he's paralyzed from the waist down, his mother, Sharron Culler, said last night.

Neighbors who witnessed Thursday night's confrontation say police are covering up the truth. And they claim cops on the scene, most of whom were white, used the "n" word at Williams and residents after the shooting.

A friend of Williams, who would give her name only as Hasana H., said she witnessed cops pull up beside Williams as he left a corner store at 29th Street and Huntingdon. He began to run, and police followed, yelling at him, "Throw the gun down or I'm gonna shoot your ass up," she recalled.

Multiple witnesses said yesterday that police were chasing Williams down Newkirk and, as he eluded authorities, he threw a gun into a vacant lot.

"After he threw the gun, the cops shot him three times" in the back, said Christina, who said she saw the shooting from her house and asked that the Daily News withhold her last name. "Never once did he turn around and look. The cops were behind him. I knew he was wrong for carrying a gun, but he never pointed the gun at the cops."

"Why'd they have to shoot him [three] times in the back?" asked friend Latoya Armstrong.

Residents are angry that police began shooting with children around.

"It's disregard for the public safety," said Salima Hawthorne, a neighborhood homeowner for 15 years.

The witnesses said that once Williams fell, police handcuffed him and kicked him as he bled on the sidewalk.

"I've seen them kicking him, called him a n-----," Hawthorne said. "F--- this n-----," police said, according to Hawthorne.

Armstrong and others said police began shoving and pushing residents who openly criticized them for the shooting. "The cops didn't care," she said. "No type of remorse for anybody. The cops were just mean."

Christina, who is white, was arrested Thursday and charged with disorderly conduct. She claims an officer called her a "b----" and when she questioned him about it, Christina was arrested. She said police at the 22nd District headquarters in North Philadelphia called her a "white n----- lover."

"They asked why am I living in the jungle with a bunch of n-----?" Christina said.

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