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Man Fatally Shot By Police In Olney

By Wyatt Earp | April 28, 2009

olney-sceneOnce again, a fatal shooting involving a police officer occurred in my division. We’re kind of busy that way. I was working when this happened, and I can assure you that this was a good shoot.

The toad wrestled for and gained control of an officer’s pistol before being shot and killed by another officer. I know the officer who fired the fatal rounds. He’s a good cop, and a veteran with a terrific record.

A Philadelphia Police officer all too familiar with a life and death situation was involved in an altercation that ended with a suspect being fatally shot in the Olney section of the city Tuesday. The incident happened at about 1:00 p.m. near the intersection of Lindley and Warnock Streets.

According to police, the incident began when Highway Patrol Officer Richard Decoatesworth encountered the apparent mentally ill suspect, identified as Anthony Tembo.

Remember Rich Decoatesworth? You should. He has been involved in a shooting before. That time, he was the victim.

“That male seem to unprovokely charge the officer and tie him up in an attempt to disarm him,” Lt. Frank Vanore said.

Vanore said there was a struggle between Officer Decoatesworth and the suspect for the officer’s gun. Officer Decoatesworth was able to shoot the suspect.

“The male then fled south on Warnock and there was another officer at the other end of the block, the male again struggled for that officer’s gun and a second officer discharged, the male was struck,” Lt. Vanore explained.

Don’t worry, though, because already the cries of “Tembo was just a good kid who was murdered by the despicable Philly police” are beginning . . .

Eyewitness said they did warn officers that the suspect was mentally ill.

“I said ‘officer, he has a mental problem, he doesn’t know what he’s doing’ I kept saying that,” eyewitness Wayne Witherspoon said. (H/TCBS3)

Okay, the news got most of the facts straight for a change. Here are a few things that they missed:

1. As I stated before, Tembo did get control of one officer’s pistol before he was shot. The officer who shot him warned him to stop and put down the gun.

2. Immediately before he charged Decoatesworth and the other officer, Tembo shouted, “JIHAD!!!” This was verified by the officers and eyewitnesses. I wonder why that little wisdom nugget didn’t make the evening news?

3. This story mentioned that no officers were injured, but forgot to add, “The officers went home alive. Good job to all involved.”

Topics: Philly, The Job | 12 Comments »

12 Responses to “Man Fatally Shot By Police In Olney”

  1. Daisy Says:
    April 28th, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Wow. Excellent job – and Decoatsworth. I don’t know him personally, but he is a hell of a officer.

    I’m glad all the good guys went home safe to their families and I hope this is a lesson learned for those idiots that think they can shoot at the police at the police anytime they want – there’s always a nice little forever dirtnap waiting for you for messing with the wrong people.

    Please stay safe, Wyatt, and wear your vest every day. I hope you all do.

  2. Daisy Says:
    April 28th, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    BTW, I’m really proud of the PPD. You are a great bunch of men and women and there are more supporters out there than you think.

    Be safe.


  3. RT Says:
    April 28th, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Decoatsworth worked hard to heal up and come back to the force. I’m glad he was on the winning end of this one. That’s twice for this very young officer in a very short period of time.

    He is a good officer. I’ve seen interviews with him and I’m always impressed by him.

  4. wagonsux Says:
    April 28th, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    “I said ‘officer, he has a mental problem, he doesn’t know what he’s doing’ I kept saying that,” eyewitness Wayne Witherspoon said.

    Did he expect the officer(s) to allow themselves to be injured, or worse, because someone has a “mental problem”? I understand we (the Police) should approach people with mental illness differently than we do with most. But when it comes to a situation like this one, the gloves come off. Contrary to the belief of some, police officers are NOT paid to get injured. Because a person has a mental illness does not make his life more valuable than an officer’s life.

    This is a sad situation for ALL involved, but I’m glad the officers came out on top.

  5. Kim Says:
    April 28th, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Score another one for the good guys.

    Stay safe.

  6. CaptainAmerica Says:
    April 28th, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    If that don’t get you the “Super Cop of the Month” T-shirt nothing will. ‘
    Shame about Tembo. I heard he was just getting his life together.
    You guys need to ditch the 9mm’s seriously. How many times ya got to shoot a perp?

  7. Doghouse Says:
    April 29th, 2009 at 10:12 am

    OK, he’s mentally ill. How will that help the family of the officer who is dead from something he did? He’s gotta be treated the same as everyone else for that reason alone.

  8. MUD Says:
    April 29th, 2009 at 10:33 am

    The death of a mentally ill person is a knock on the Health care system and a tribute to the marksmanship program of the police. How would people have felt if that nut job had shouted Jihad and killed a few of them? In his reality he will be in a garden with a bunch of virgins. Or not!

  9. Monica Says:
    April 29th, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Nope, didn’t hear a peep about the “Jihad!” remark.

  10. Alan B Says:
    April 29th, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Sounds odd to me.

    Who is this Witherspoon guy? What connection is he to Tembo to know that he was mentally ill? If he knew so much about Tembo, what was he doing to resolve a desparate situation involving this friend/colleague/patient about whom he knew more than the casual bystander?

    Has anyone briefed you cops about how to handle this kind of situation? If not, why are the press making an issue of it and, apparently, being judgmental?

    From thousands of miles away and relying totally on the story you presented, I can’t see how the officers could have acted differently and they seemed to be acting with a degree of restraint up to the point when they had reason to think their lives were at risk.

  11. Rick Says:
    April 29th, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    I figure it like this one less scumbag in the world.
    I am glad the officers are ok.

  12. Jim Says:
    April 30th, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Good job, Philly PD. I don’t know how you guys do it, but I thank God every day that you’re there.