June 05, 2023
The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office will lead an independent investigation into the state police shooting of an 18-year-old who allegedly struck two troopers with his car Sunday morning on I-95. The shooting happened after authorities had responded to reports of cars drag racing and doing burnouts in the Penn's Landing area, one of multiple car meets that created havoc in the city over the weekend.
At a news briefing Monday afternoon, authorities provided updates on the shooting of Anthony Allegrini Jr., of Glen Mills, who was among a large crowd of motorists and pedestrians that had blocked the highway around 3:30 a.m., police said.
When state troopers arrived at the scene, Allegrini and three others got into a black Audi S4 that was parked along the shoulder of the highway, said Capt. Gerard B. McShea, commanding officer of Pennsylvania State Police Troop K. The car's license plate was completely obscured.
Two state troopers positioned their vehicle in front of the Audi and got out on foot, McShea said. Allegrini, who was behind the wheel of the Audi, allegedly failed to follow an order to stay put. The Audi struck the two troopers in the legs, then one of the troopers fired into the car through the windshield, striking Allegrini, McShea said.
Allegrini, a senior at Interboro High School in Prospect Park, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities did not say where Allegrini was struck, but McShea said state police are "confident" that only one shot was fired into Allegrini's car.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office will conduct a thorough investigation, which is required of the D.A.'s office in all police-involved shootings in the city.
"We will do whatever we can to get the truth," Krasner said. "Any legal consequence, if there is any legal consequence in civil court or in criminal court, will flow from what the truth is. Unfortunately, that means that in the middle of an investigation that needs to have integrity, we cannot talk too much about what we know so far — because it's incomplete."
McShea declined to discuss many details of the shooting, citing the active investigation, but he acknowledged videos that have been shared on social media showing Allegrini injured on the highway after the shooting.
Allegrini was near a state police vehicle when an ambulance was called, McShea said. Investigators did not say how and when Allegrini got outside of the Audi before he died. They also have not said whether state troopers attempted to render aid to Allegrini.
"It's hard to put a whole story together off a glimpse of video," McShea said. "You will not know the whole story if you see something after it occurred, before it occurred — you know, it's putting the pieces together. And as an agency, as we investigate this, that's what we're doing. We're collecting everything so that we have that clear picture of what occurred."
Pennsylvania State Police vehicles are equipped with dash cameras, but state troopers do not have body-worn cameras. McShea said the agency has funding for body-worn cameras and is in the process of implementing a program for troopers.
McShea called the scene on the highway "chaotic," with thousands of people standing on the roadway as some motorists did donuts and others set off fireworks. The two troopers struck by Allegrini's car were the first to arrive at the scene, McShea said.
It's unclear how involved Allegrini was in the drag racing and other stunts taking place on the highway.
"We're not going to allude to what he was doing," McShea said.
The three passengers in Allegrini's car were detained as part of the investigation, although no decisions have been made about possible charges against them.
The two injured state troopers have not been identified and will be placed on administrative duty during the investigation, McShea said. An internal affairs investigation will be conducted alongside the investigation led by Krasner, who joined McShea at the press briefing and also spoke about the case earlier Monday.
"It's important that we know exactly what happened and exactly what did not happen," Krasner said earlier Monday during his weekly gun violence briefing.
"The first thing I did this morning was go over certain kinds of evidence that are available. What I know for sure is we want all the evidence that's out there. We know we haven't seen all of it yet. We will be as careful as we possibly can be and as even-handed as we possibly can be in figuring out the facts and drawing legal conclusions on those facts."
Allegrini's girlfriend, Reagan Hocking, told NBC10 that she believes Allegrini may have been shot outside of his vehicle. She referenced at least one video on social media that she said may contradict statements made by police. The authenticity of that video has not been verified.
"I do agree that that (the drag race) might not be the most safe thing to do in the world," Hocking said. "But what's not safe is a cop showing up and killing an innocent life."
Krasner called on the public to provide videos and witness information related to the shooting. The D.A.'s Office is in the process of reviewing footage that has circulated online.
"Our allegiance is to the truth," Krasner said. "We'll figure out what it means in terms of consequences later, but our allegiance is to the truth. And we've got to make sure this investigation is done right."
McShea said state troopers are permitted to fire their weapons if they believe they are in serious danger.
"If you're in fear of death or bodily injury, or you believe somebody else present on scene could be in fear or at risk of death or bodily injury, deadly force would be appropriate," McShea said.
State police have responded to an increasing number of incidents on highways surrounding Philadelphia over the last few years, McShea said. He said drivers involved in these incidents have become more reckless and aggressive.
"There is a run-first mindset which places those fleeing and those on the roadway at risk," McShea said.
McShea referenced the deadly crash that killed two state troopers and another man last year on I-95, resulting in charges against a woman who was allegedly driving drunk.
Sunday's car meet on I-95 was one of multiple similar incidents in the city over the weekend, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said. She noted several car meets and disorderly behavior that took place Saturday night and Sunday morning. Police responded to incidents at Bustleton and Philmont avenues, Roosevelt Boulevard and Torresdale Avenue, Broad and York streets and at a gas station on the 500 block of Byberry Road.
At these car meets, Outlaw said suspects threw objects including bricks and flower pots at police vehicles. At one gathering on the 2400 block of North Broad Street, a 19-year-old man attempted to flee police in his car and ended up assaulting an officer. His arrest was the only one made by police at any of these incidents, but authorities are reviewing surveillance video and intend to pursue charges against others.
"The type of behavior exhibited at these car meets over the weekend was just outrageous, quite frankly," Outlaw said. "Property was destroyed. Officers and civilians were assaulted. And countless individuals had their lives put at risk because of the behavior that we witnessed."
Philadelphia police were not involved in the response to the car meet on I-95, but had been attempting to track the movements of these groups using social media over the weekend, Outlaw said. Police believe some individuals were involved in multiple events.
"I'm beyond sickened and I'm outraged that so many people think that it's OK to partake in this type of criminal behavior," Outlaw said. "We all want to make very (crystal) clear (that) if anyone was participating in this activity, do not think for one moment that you got away with it. We are not done."
Krasner said Sunday's shooting is part of a broader problem with illegal behavior on city streets and highways, especially during the warmer months of the year.
"What I hope will not get lost is how dangerous drifting is, how dangerous street racing is, how unacceptable it is to all of the law-abiding people who live and work in the city of Philadelphia," Krasner said. "And how we all have to work proactively to find ways to prevent this kind of activity from occurring in the first place."
Krasner said he's participated in a number of meetings with police in recent years about issues related to drag racing, illegal ATVs and unregistered dirt bikes in Philadelphia.
"They're in a tough spot," Krasner said of police officers. "It's a very difficult situation when people are bringing mayhem to the streets by speeding through it without regard for the safety of others. It's a very difficult situation for police to do anything that will not make it even more dangerous."
Although Pennsylvania passed a law last year allowing police to be more aggressive about confiscating illegal vehicles, Outlaw said the department still needs to work with city and state leaders to consider other legislation that can help. Police often exercise caution in these scenarios due to the risk that overzealous enforcement may escalate dangerous situations, causing harm to officers and innocent bystanders.
John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order Police Lodge 5, said over the weekend that the city was "under siege by criminal activity" and that Philadelphia police are faced with a dire shortage of officers.
Outlaw lamented that people from outside the city are coming in to use it as a playground for illegal behavior.
"Stay home," Outlaw said. "We don't tolerate that here. I think that people have gotten this sense that Philadelphia is the place to come and do whatever (they) want — trash it up, you know, and create all these safety issues for the residents who live here or the people who want to come here safely, and leave. That's unacceptable."