Philly officer under investigation for accidentally shooting man during disarmament

The incident, captured on the officer's body-worn camera, left the victim in stable condition

By Chris Palmer
The Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA — A 62-year-old man who used his legally owned gun to kill an aggressive dog on an East Germantown street earlier this week gave a responding Philadelphia Police officer permission to disarm him — and as the officer grabbed the firearm from its holster, he accidentally pulled the trigger, shooting the man in the leg, authorities said.

The incident, captured on the officer's body-worn camera, left the victim in stable condition, police said.

The District Attorney's Office said it does not anticipate charging the officer, identified by police as James Edmiston, a 15-year veteran of the force assigned to the 14th District.

'"We do not believe that what happened is criminal in nature," said Jane Roh, a spokesperson for the office.

The episode represents one of the more unusual shootings involving a city officer in recent years. One source who has seen the video, but asked for anonymity to describe it because police are not planning to release it, said the encounter between the officer and the gun owner was almost cordial before the shot was fired.

Police did not identify the man who was shot. They gave the following account of what happened:

The incident began just after 4:15 p.m. Monday when the man was walking his dog on a leash around the 2000 block of Chew Avenue. Two unleashed pit bulls approached his dog, and the bigger of the two began to attack his dog.

The man tried to break up the dogs, but couldn't, so he pulled his holstered Taurus 9mm handgun and fired, killing the pit bull attacking his dog. The other pit bull ran away.

The man took his wounded dog home, and afterward, saw Edmiston in a patrol car on the 2100 block of Conlyn Street and flagged him down.

The man told Edmiston he'd just shot a dog, and that his gun was in his holster on his waist. Edmiston said he needed to secure the man's weapon, so the man placed his arms over his head.

Edmiston then reached for the gun. As he took it out of the holster, he accidentally pulled the trigger, striking the man in the right leg.

Edmiston drove the man to Einstein Medical Center, where he was reported in stable condition.

Edmiston was placed on desk duty pending an internal investigation.

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