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Philadelphia officials decline to discuss tactics used by officers before deadly police shooting

Philadelphia officials decline to discuss tactics used during deadly police shooting
Philadelphia officials decline to discuss tactics used during deadly police shooting 03:48

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Surveillance video of a shooting inside a North Philadelphia corner store is raising questions about police tactics.

Philadelphia police released a video Tuesday at a news conference that shows the moments leading to the scuffle that left a police officer shot and a man dead.

When asked if the scuffle was a stop-and-frisk situation gone wrong, Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel declined to answer.

RELATED: Man wanted for taking gun in deadly Philadelphia police shooting in Fairhill arrested: authorities

The shooting left Alexander Spencer dead after police asked Spencer to show his waistband as he was backed into a row of gaming machines inside the Fairhill corner store.  

The manner in which police began to interact with Spencer is now part of internal and criminal investigations, according to police.

"The department remains extremely limited in the information we can release," Bethel said. 

Neither police nor District Attorney Larry Krasner would answer questions about the officers' actions immediately before the shootings.

"I'm not going to be able to do that," Krasner said. 

Police and Krasner wouldn't talk specifics on policy, saying it's all part of their ongoing investigation.  

But according to Philadelphia police directives, when it comes to stop and frisk — or what are known as "Terry stops" — if an officer "possesses reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and there are specific factors which lead the officer to believe the subject is armed and poses a threat, the officer is permitted to conduct a Terry frisk of the person to detect weapons that could be used to harm the officer."

"The individual decided to fight, and did not give up that illegal gun," Bethel said. 

Stop and frisk has long been a controversial policy.

The ACL in 2010 sued the city of Philadelphia over its use, concerned about racial profiling.

A settlement was reached and court records show the department must track all vehicle and pedestrian stops.

More recently, Terry stops have come up on the campaign trail, with Mayor Cherelle Parker endorsing their usefulness in fighting gun violence, but when conducted lawfully and with balance. 

FULL VIDEO: Surveillance video shows shooting of man, officer inside Philadelphia corner store 05:22

But opinions are mixed on Philadelphia streets.

"That looked like stop and frisk and this is why we should all be considering how dangerous that can be for citizens and officers," Pastor Carl Day, a community activist, said.  

But the policy has resurfaced in light of the last three years of elevated gun violence.

Brandon Flood, of CeaseFirePA, an organization dedicated to ending the gun violence epidemic in Pennsylvania, sees its usefulness. 

"Obviously I know the policy of stop and frisk is controversial but it's certainly a way to more smartly deploy those tactics in a way certainly is not discriminatory and doesn't result in any civil rights violations," Flood said. 

Prosecutors said it would be some three months before they could offer a more complete assessment of what happened. 

"If we do not lift up this video so that people can see what it shows, what it does not show, what can be determined, what cannot be determined from the video, then what we have is for people to have the opportunity to invent their own narratives," Krasner said. "And that can be dangerous."

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