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A man with special needs was shot by a Philadelphia police officer who said he feared for his life as the unarmed man walked through traffic asking for money and approached his car.
The victim, Joel Johnson, who reportedly has mental health issues, is in critical condition after a police detective shot him in the torso.
The officer fired three shots through his car window, The Daily Mail reports.
“The detective believed what he saw was a firearm in this male’s hands. The detective, believing he was going to be robbed or something was going to happen to him, produced his firearm, discharged his firearm — we believe at this time — three times,” said Philadelphia Police Captain Sekou Kinebrew.
The Johnson family, who said he was a panhandler that was well known in the area, disagrees with the officer’s version of events.
“A lot of people say he just made a hand gesture for change like he always does,” Johnson’s brother Hector Tirado told reporters. ‘The officer was on his phone and when he looked up he got startled, he got nervous, and started shooting through the window.’
The detective has reportedly been put on desk duty pending a full investigation.