Shorter prison term sought in pizza-dispute shooting death

Posted: February 12, 2014

The lawyer for former police Sgt. Chauncey Ellison has asked a city judge to reduce the 111/2- to 23-month prison term for Ellison's misdemeanor conviction in the 2008 shooting death of a West Oak Lane man in a dispute over a stolen pizza.

The reconsideration motion by defense attorney Brian J. McMonagle will be heard Feb. 21 by Common Pleas Court Judge Sandy L.V. Byrd - the day Ellison and former girlfriend Robin Fortune, also an ex-officer, are to surrender to serve their terms.

McMonagle's motion follows the Jan. 29 decision by the District Attorney's Office to not retry Ellison and Fortune on charges on which the jury could not reach a verdict.

On Nov. 26, a jury convicted Ellison and Fortune of reckless endangerment in the Nov. 17, 2008, shooting of Lawrence Allen, 20.

The jury deadlocked on a voluntary manslaughter count against Ellison, who fired the fatal shot, and a conspiracy count against Fortune. The jury also acquitted Ellison of gun and conspiracy counts.

On Jan. 17, Byrd sentenced Ellison and Fortune each to 111/2 to 23 months in prison. The terms were twice that recommended under state sentencing guidelines for the misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment.

Byrd said Ellison and Fortune did not call 911 for backup, had a personal interest - the pizza was forcibly taken from Ellison's teenage son - were in street clothes, and did not identify themselves.

"To the whole world around them, they were just two people, one with a gun, acting in a reckless and shameless way," the judge said.

Byrd let the two ex-officers remain free until Feb. 21 to give officials time to find a prison where they could be safely housed.

Neither McMonagle nor Assistant District Attorney Gail Fairman were available for comment.

Fortune's attorney, Gerald S. Stanshine, said he and Fortune had not decided whether to ask Byrd to reconsider her sentence.

Ellison, 41, was a sergeant with nine years on the police force; Fortune, 45, was an officer for 13 years. In 2008, they were living together along with Ellison's teenage son and Fortune's teenage son and daughter.

According to trial testimony, Ellison and Fortune were at home when they learned that a local teen had punched Ellison's 14-year-old son and taken his pizza. The couple, with two children in the car, tailed the robber, a friend of Allen's, to the 1900 block of Renovo Street.

There, in sweats and without identification, Ellison and Fortune saw the robber, but Allen blocked their way. An argument ensued, and Ellison shot Allen.

Ellison insisted Allen drew a gun, although no gun was found near his body, and Fairman argued that Allen was unarmed.

215-854-2985 @joeslobo


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