Amtrak Cop Kills Threatening Man

Tuesday, July 18th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man who was harassing passengers at the city's main train station was shot to death by Amtrak police Tuesday after he allegedly threatened them with a chair. One witness quoted the man as saying: ``You're going to have to shoot me.''

The man, who was believed to be homeless, was threatening passers-by at 30th Street Station and using profane language, witnesses said.

Amtrak Chief of Police Ron Frazier said a restaurant in the station contacted his department to report the man. Two officers were escorting the man out of the station when he picked up a chair and threatened them, then threw it at one of the officers, Frazier said.

The other officer, Lt. Dennis Kelly, fired one shot and struck the man in the chest, Frazier said.

The shooting apparently did not affect train travel at the station, which handles Amtrak and commuter trains.

Glenda Langley, 42, a sanitation worker who was in the station on a break, said she saw the man holding the chair over his head and the two officers pleading with him to drop it.

``The guy was saying, `Stay away. You're going to have to shoot me,''' Langley said. The man swung the chair when one of the officers reached for it, she said.

``After it happened, everyone screamed,'' Langley said. ``Tears came out of my eyes and some people said, `You didn't have to do that.'''

Langley said she saw the man nearly every day at the station, adding, ``He often talks to himself, but he never seemed violent.''

Kelly, an 11-year member on the Amtrak police force, was placed on leave while the Philadelphia Police Department investigates.

Amtrak spokesman Rick Remington said deadly force is justified in a life-threatening situation. Amtrak has 500 police officers nationwide who are trained and accredited like regular municipal officers, he said.

Cheri Honkala, leader of the advocacy group Kensington Welfare Rights Union, said police could have handled the situation better.

``Where ever there's homeless people and law enforcement, there's going to be a situation where (the homeless) are going to be treated less than human or they're going to be treated like someone to be feared,'' Honkala said.

The shooting happened less than two weeks before the start of the Republican National Convention, which is expected to draw 45,000 GOP officials, delegates and media to Philadelphia from July 31 to Aug. 3.