11/02/2007

Shot in shoulder, Phila. officer leaves hospital

By Julie Shaw
The Philadelphia Daily News
Related: Phila. officer shot by masked gunman who shot 3 others

PHILADELPHIA Police Officer Mariano Santiago, wounded Tuesday night after being shot in Center City, was released from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital yesterday.

The Traffic Division officer, 44, had given chase to a gunman fleeing in a stolen Chevy SUV after the gunman wounded three people in a parked Buick on Sansom Street near 16th about 10:20 p.m.

The gunman, Jerome Whitaker, 29, of Carpenter Street near 19th, South Philadelphia, crashed the SUV at 22nd and Sansom. He then fired at Santiago, hitting the officer once in the shoulder.

Whitaker continued fleeing from police and jumped into the Schuylkill. He drowned, and his body was recovered Wednesday.

In June 1994, Whitaker, then 15, killed 6-year-old Michelle Cutner with a stray bullet when he had been shooting at a friend's unoccupied car after an argument.

Whitaker pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and weapons offenses in May 1995. He was sentenced to 11 to 25 years as part of a plea agreement. He was released on parole in 2006, and was again arrested this July, after being found in possession of Xanax and Percocet pills, court records show.

Prosecutors withdrew the drug charges at his preliminary hearing in September after determining that Whitaker had prescriptions for the pills.

Copyright 2007 The Philadelphia Daily News

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