Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Philly DA unable to press charges
ESPN.com news services
PHILADELPHIA -- A gun owned by Indianapolis Colts star Marvin Harrison was used in an April shooting, but investigators still can't determine who pulled the trigger, the city's chief prosecutor said Tuesday.
Five bullet casings found at the North Philadelphia shooting scene came from Harrison's weapon, but investigators have conflicting witness accounts of who fired it, Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham said.
No charges have been filed in the April 29 shooting and the investigation remains open.
"It's not enough to say that a gun fired a bullet," Abraham said. "I'm not prepared to say who fired the gun." She added that she thinks she knows who the gunman was, but doesn't have the evidence to prove it.
The victim has sued Harrison and law enforcement will be keeping tabs on that proceeding to see if any new evidence emerges that could help the criminal investigation, Abraham said.
Harrison's attorney, Jerome Brown, declined to comment Tuesday. The receiver's agent, Tom Condon, said he hadn't talked to his client about the matter in some time, but remained confident Harrison had done nothing wrong.
"Marvin asserted that he hadn't done anything and that he was not involved," Condon said. "I was confident that Marvin wasn't involved."
Colts president Bill Polian lauded Abraham's decision not to file charges at this time.
"We are pleased with this development and defer to her ability to weigh the actual evidence," he said in a statement. "It would not be appropriate for us to have further comment at this time."
The San Diego Chargers eliminated the Colts in the first round of the NFL playoffs on Saturday, but Abraham said that had nothing to do with the timing of Tuesday's news conference.
The shooting happened near a car wash owned by Harrison that is about a half mile from a bar he also owns. A child also was hit in the eyes by broken glass, but was treated and released from a hospital, investigators said.
The wide receiver was questioned by police soon after. Harrison said he was at the garage at the time of the shooting; that he knew the victim, Dwight Dixon; and that the two had been in a fistfight two weeks earlier after Dixon tried to enter his bar with a gun, Abraham said.
Harrison said his gun had been at his suburban home on the day of the shooting and that it had not been fired since it was bought a year or two earlier, Abraham added.
In announcing her decision not to prosecute Harrison, Abraham explained that Harrison and four other men, including Dixon, were involved in the incident, but they all gave "multiple, mutually exclusive, and inherently untrustworthy and false statements."
Two of the men involved, Malcolm Poindexter and Stanley McCray, an employee of Harrison, told police they did not want to be involved.
Dixon sued Harrison in September, claiming he sustained "serious and permanent injuries" to his arm and body and a "severe shock" to his nervous system.
Dixon's lawyer, Robert Gamburg, said his client will pursue his civil damages case against Harrison.
"My client is upset. We know that if it had been anyone else, he would have been arrested and charged," Gamburg said.
Gamburg said he thinks Abraham showed favoritism toward Harrison in her decision not to prosecute.
"Absolutely," he said. "There are conflicts among witnesses in every case. There are reluctant witnesses in every case. We know that Harrison shot him, and will do our own investigation."
According to a summary of the evidence released by Abraham on Tuesday, Dixon himself gave different accounts of the incident. Shortly after the shooting, he gave a false name and told emergency room nurses and police that he was shot while resisting a robbery at an intersection in West Philadelphia. The next day, Dixon told other police officers he was shot by two unknown hooded men at a different and distant intersection. Dixon was also unable to explain two shell casings police found in his truck, indications that Dixon had fired a gun.
Harrison, who played at Philadelphia's Roman Catholic High, has owned the bar, Playmakers, since July 2004, according to state records.
The 36-year-old receiver has played all of his 12 seasons with the Colts and is the franchise's record holder in every major receiving category. He is one of only four players in league history to top 1,000 receptions.
Information from ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson and The Associated Press was used in this report.