PHILADELPHIA, July 26 (UPI) -- Two former Philadelphia police officers will stand trial for the 2008 shooting death of a young man over a stolen piece of pizza.
The ex-officers, gunman Sgt. Chauncey Ellison Sr., 39, and his girlfriend, Robin Fortune, 44, waived their right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday in exchange for their defense lawyers immediately receiving all grand jury testimony from the District Attorney's Office, the Philadelphia Daily News reported.
The charges against Ellison and Fortune stem from a November 2008 incident in which a 16-year-old boy punched Ellison's 14-year-old son and stole a piece of pizza from him.
Ellison, who was off-duty, went to the attacker's home and shot Lawrence Allen, who was trying to negotiate between Ellison and the 16-year-old, in the back. The bullet severed Allen's spinal cord and he died in 2009.
Ellison was charged with voluntary manslaughter and related offenses, while Fortune was charged with recklessly endangering another person and conspiracy for allegedly egging Ellison on. They were both fired from the police force in 2010.
Both have pleaded not guilty, and Ellison claimed self-defense, alleging Allen pulled a gun on him first.
"My client went out there that night to arrest a robbery suspect," defense attorney Brian McMonagle said. "He was confronted with an individual who brandished a firearm. Confronted with the possibility that he was going to lose his life, he pulled out his firearm and defended himself. This is a case of self-defense."
Assistant District Attorney Gail Fairman argued against the self-defense claim.
"It was not self-defense," she said. "When you come on somebody's block, when you stand in front of their home, when you draw a gun, when you don't identity yourself as a police officer -- it's not self-defense."
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