Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner’s Convictions of Police Officers Spark Controversy

Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner has arrested four city police officers for on-duty killings since 2018, securing two convictions, including the city’s first murder conviction for an on-duty officer. Critics argue Krasner’s policies contribute to rising crime rates and hinder police recruitment.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner has convicted two police officers for on-duty killings, including the city’s first murder conviction of an on-duty officer.
  • Critics argue Krasner’s policies contribute to increased crime and police recruitment challenges.
  • Despite opposition and calls for impeachment, Krasner remains committed to criminal justice reform.

Philadelphia DA Krasner’s Police Misconduct Convictions

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, since taking office in 2018, has arrested four city police officers for on-duty killings, securing two convictions.

This includes the city’s first-ever murder conviction for an officer who fatally shot a 12-year-old boy.

Before Krasner’s tenure, the last conviction of a Philadelphia officer for an on-duty killing was in 1978. The only other conviction before that was in 1870.

I am proud of the fact that we try to get it right every day, and we do not accept or recognize a caste system where the life of any particular person is more important than the life of any other person,” Krasner stated in an April 29 interview.

Impact of Krasner’s Policies on Crime and Recruitment

While fulfilling his promise to hold police accountable, Krasner faces criticism for allegedly being too lenient on crime, contributing to Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis and police recruitment issues.

Critics argue his approach hampers the Police Department’s ability to fill roughly 1,000 open positions.

Krasner’s detractors, including Republican lawmakers and crime victims, voiced their concerns during a May 3 hearing held by the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

They accused him of behaving more like a defense attorney than a prosecutor and claimed his policies embolden criminals.

Krasner’s Legal Actions Against Police Misconduct

Krasner has charged four officers for fatal shootings: Edsaul Mendoza, convicted of third-degree murder for killing Thomas Siderio, 12; Eric Ruch, convicted of voluntary manslaughter for the death of Dennis Plowden, 27; and Mark Dial, awaiting trial for first-degree murder in the shooting of Eddie Irizarry, 27.

The fourth officer, Ryan Pownall, was charged with third-degree murder in 2018 for the death of David Jones, 30. The charges were dismissed, but Krasner’s office continues to investigate.

Krasner’s actions place him among a small group of prosecutors nationwide who have charged police officers for on-duty killings.

From 2005 through March 2023, only 193 non-federal officers were charged with murder or manslaughter for on-duty shootings, with 60 convictions, 86 non-convictions, and 47 pending cases.

Debate Over Krasner’s Criminal Justice Policies

Krasner’s commitment to criminal justice reform and reducing mass incarceration has drawn praise from progressives and criticism from conservatives.

His opponents accuse him of pushing soft-on-crime policies and failing to support the police. They also argue that his reluctance to seek the death penalty and his handling of cases involving repeat offenders contribute to the city’s crime issues.

During the May 3 hearing, former officers and families of slain police officers criticized Krasner’s policies.

Joel Fitzgerald, a former Philadelphia officer and former chief of police in Fort Worth, Texas, condemned Krasner for not seeking the death penalty for the man who killed his son, Christopher, a Temple University public safety officer.

Krasner’s Defense and Commitment to Reform

Krasner responded to the criticism with a news conference, emphasizing the importance of transparency and data-driven approaches to criminal justice.

He highlighted that homicides in Philadelphia were down more than 35 percent compared to the same time last year.

We have to, on the one hand, be encouraged by what we see in the data,” Krasner said.

But on the other hand, we have to never forget that there are people, even when society’s getting safer, who have suffered horrific losses. Who have suffered terrible losses. Who will be affected by it forever.”

Ongoing Debate on Criminal Justice Reform in Philadelphia

Larry Krasner’s tenure as Philadelphia’s District Attorney remains a focal point of debate over criminal justice reform.

While he continues to prosecute police misconduct and implement progressive policies, his critics argue that these efforts come at the cost of public safety and effective law enforcement.

The ongoing discussions highlight the complex balance between accountability, justice, and community safety.