City settles lawsuit brought by mother of man slain by off-duty cop

Posted: November 22, 2013

WHILE TWO fired Philadelphia cops were telling a jury yesterday that their actions in the 2008 shooting death of a young father were justified, the city was finalizing a financial settlement with the dead man's mother, the Daily News has learned.

An agreement to settle a federal wrongful-death and civil-rights lawsuit filed by the mother of Lawrence Allen, 20, was reached last week, but it has yet to be finalized, Chief Deputy City Solicitor Craig Straw said yesterday.

"We are not finished with the paperwork in the settlement yet, so I don't feel comfortable talking about it," said Straw, who added that the amount of the settlement would not be disclosed until the deal was finalized.

Terry Bowen, Allen's mother, declined to discuss the settlement yesterday during a break in the trial of ex-officers Chauncey Ellison and Robin Fortune.

Ellison, 40, faces charges of voluntary manslaughter and related counts in the Nov. 17, 2008, shooting of Allen, which led to his death three months later.

Fortune, 45, who was Ellison's girlfriend and housemate at the time, is charged with reckless endangerment and conspiracy.

The settlement contains no "admission of liability" by the city, nor by Ellison, Straw said.

The jury has not been told about it.

Ellison and Fortune were off duty and wearing street clothes when they encountered Allen in front the home on Renovo Street in West Oak Lane where Allen lived.

Shortly before Ellison shot Allen once in the upper back, Allen's friend Demetrius "Meaty" Haywood, 16, had punched and robbed Ellison's son, Chauncey Jr., 14, of a pizza near Cheltenham Avenue. Fortune's son Stephon Berry, 14, was with him.

In response, Ellison, Fortune, Chauncey Jr. and Fortune's daughter Brittany, 16, drove around looking for Haywood, who ran to Allen's home.

Ellison and Fortune both testified yesterday that Allen repeatedly offered to pay for the pizza, but they told him that he was not involved and that they had come to apprehend Haywood, who was hiding nearby. They also said Allen had a gun. Police found no weapon on Allen, and several witnesses on Wednesday told the jury that he was not armed.

During the standoff, Ellison said, Allen pulled a silver handgun and said, "What's up now, old head?" Ellison said he repeatedly told Allen to drop the gun and that he was "5-0," slang for a cop.

Allen responded by telling his friends: "Yo, get your [weapons], old head trippin'," Ellison said.

"Didn't I tell you I'm a f------ cop! Drop the gun," Ellison shouted, standing next to the jury box to demonstrate how he pointed his gun at Allen.

During a brief struggle for Allen's gun, Ellison said, he fired his department-issued Glock once, striking Allen.

"Lawrence Allen pulled a gun on me, and I had no choice. I pleaded with Mr. Allen, 'Please drop your gun,' and he refused. I didn't want to hurt anybody out there," Ellison said when his lawyer, Brian McMonagle, asked why he had fired.

Fortune denied egging on Ellison to shoot Allen, to which other witnesses have testified. She said she went looking for Haywood "as a concerned parent" with no intention of hurting anyone.

Shirley Horton, a neighbor of Allen's who said she watched from a window, testified that she saw Allen pull a handgun on Ellison, prompting the men to tussle for the weapon.

After stepping away from the window to call 9-1-1, Horton said, her daughter shouted that someone had been shot.

"I said, 'The boy shot the man?' She said, 'The man shot the boy,' " Horton testified.

"I said, 'He took the boy's gun?' She said, 'He [Ellison] had his own gun.' "

- Staff writer Julie Shaw

contributed to this report

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