Dec 9

Commonwealth v. T.N.

Commonwealth v. T.N.


During a heated neighborhood dispute, a gunman opened fire on the block and struck a young woman in the back, shattering her pelvic bone. Witnesses told police that they observed the shooter exit from a car that was left on the block and police searched that car, finding paperwork in the name of T.N. Based on that, police developed T.N. as a suspect in this gun offense and placed his picture in a photo array where he was later identified as the shooter by two separate witnesses. T.N. was arrested on attempted murder, aggravated assault and related charges.

At trial, the defense attacked the identifications made by the witnesses due to the procedures the police used in the photo arrays, and demonstrated that the witnesses were in positions that would have made it almost impossible to identify the shooter, based on the physical evidence. Furthermore, the Philadelphia, PA defense attorney highlighted the fact that one of the responding officers at the scene chased a suspect that bystanders identified as the shooter. Although that individual was briefly lost in the area, a SWAT team was called in because a man who matched the same description of the man who fled had barricaded himself in a house.

Despite the fact that this individual was apprehended, he was released because an unknown witness apparently told SWAT officers that he was not the shooter. A witness at trial claimed that she was the person who told police that man was not the shooter, raising the issue of witness misidentification. However, the defense showed that at the time this individual was apprehended by SWAT, the witness was giving a statement to the detectives. Shockingly, detectives on the case never tried to have the cop who initially pursued the man identify him, although the same cop was shown a photo array of T.N. and said he didn’t recognize him. Nor did detectives ever show the barricaded man to other witnesses on the block- he was mysteriously forgotten about. After deliberating for just a few minutes, a jury delivered a not guilty verdict on all charges.

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