Philadelphia man shot to death by police officer

Posted: June 17, 2011

Preparing for his job as a SEPTA bus driver early Friday, Eric Crawley, 39, of East Mount Airy, received a phone call saying that his younger sister and her boyfriend were fighting and that the man had hit her, his relatives said yesterday.

About 10:20 a.m., Crawley went to the 7900 block of Rugby Street, where his sister lived. His mother was there, too. Patrol officers were quelling the dispute, police said.

Crawley had a licensed handgun on his hip.

"The officers told him not to remove the gun, but he removes it," said Lt. Ray Evers, a Police Department spokesman. "They told him to drop it, and he did not."

One of the officers fired once, hitting Crawley in the chest, Evers said. Crawley fell in the street a few feet from his car, with his mother and sister over him. He was pronounced dead at Albert Einstein Medical Center.

"The officer took the appropriate action," Evers said.

As in all police shootings, Internal Affairs and Homicide were investigating, Evers said. It was not yet clear whether Crawley had been pointing his gun at police, Evers said.

Police did not release the officer's name, saying only that he was assigned to the 14th District and that he had been on the force four years.

Crawley's mother, Rose, 60, and his sister, Danielle, 19, who neighbors said witnessed the shooting, could not be reached late Friday.

One neighbor, who said she did not want her name printed, said she heard commotion and looked outside, seeing the police, the women, and a man in the street, when Crawley's car screeched to a halt.

She said she went to call 911 and heard a male's voice shouting, "What are you going to do, shoot me?"

She said she did not know if it was Crawley shouting.

Then she heard the shot.

She said Crawley's mother screamed, "You didn't have to kill him. He wasn't going to shoot you."

Crawley's family, gathered outside his home a few blocks from the shooting scene, said Rose Crawley had told them that her son did not pull his gun from the holster. A Philadelphia School District bus driver, she had driven to the scene in a yellow school bus.

"This was a hardworking family man," said Crawley's sister-in-law, Dynita Crawley. "This was not someone from the streets. This was a good man."

Crawley, a father of four children ages 6 to 21, had worked for SEPTA for four years, she said. He also owned a small film-production company, and had bought the gun because he often carried expensive film equipment.

Previously, he owned a barbershop, she said.

Crawley suffered from sickle-cell anemia and had been hospitalized often.

"He lived every moment to the fullest," Dynita Crawley said. "He lived every moment happy and optimistic."

He had asked his girlfriend to marry him in February.

Lisa Hobbs, his fiancée, sat crying in the rain. They had just finalized their wedding plans and were to be married in August in his brother's South Jersey backyard.

By midafternoon, Crawley's white Cadillac was still parked on Rugby Street. An empty pack of cigarettes and a Tastykake lemon pie were on the seat. The car was still running. The radio was playing.


Contact staff writer Mike Newall at 215-854-2759 or mnewall@phillynews.com.

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