Reading Police justified in shooting suspect in Wawa parking lot, DA says

District Attorney John T. Adams has determined a Reading police officer was justified in his use of force last month when he shot at a fleeing suspect in the parking lot of Wawa on Lancaster Ave in Reading.

The announcement was made at a press conference Wednesday morning where the District Attorney also released surveillance video and body camera footage from the incident.

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Adams said the officer involved was justified in deploying deadly force against Emanuel Padilla-Tirado to ensure the safety of himself and other officers. As a result, the officer will not be charged with any criminal offenses in connection with the incident that day.

“Based upon a thorough review of all the available evidence, I conclude that the Officer acted reasonable and with proper justification in his use of force on Wednesday, September 14th, 2022. The District Attorney’s Office will take no further action in this matter” stated Adams.

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District Attorney’s Incident Summary

On Wednesday, September 14, 2022, members of the Reading Police Department were involved in a shooting at the Wawa store located at 413 Lancaster Ave., Reading, Berks County PA.

The Reading Police Department had an active warrant for Emanuel Padilla-Tirado for aggravated assault, relative to a shooting that occurred on September 9, 2022, at South 14th Street and Fairview Avenue. The warrant was issued on September 10, 2022, by Magisterial District Judge Carissa Johnson.

The officers were aware that Padilla-Tirado owned and operated a 2012 Chevrolet Malibu bearing PA registration LXK-6075. Additionally, they were aware that based on the prior incident, he was potentially armed and dangerous.

Officers were conducting a canvas of the area of the Wawa, when they observed the suspect vehicle backing into a parking space of the store. Two plain clothes vice detectives operating an unmarked police vehicle pulled in front of the suspect vehicle. They identified the driver of the suspect vehicle as Padilla-Tirado, accompanied by a female passenger in the front seat of the vehicle.

Padilla-Tirado accelerated his vehicle towards the unmarked police vehicle. One of the detectives drew his service weapon and gave verbal commands, through his open driver’s window, for the suspect to stop the vehicle. However, the suspect stopped his vehicle short and maneuvered his vehicle by backing up, then turning the vehicle to the right and accelerating forward.

Meanwhile, a uniformed police officer operating a marked police vehicle with emergency lights and siren activated, attempted to block the suspect from fleeing. With his service weapon drawn, this officer exited his vehicle positioning himself at the front passenger side of the suspects’ vehicle, issuing commands for the suspect to stop.

The suspect accelerated his vehicle toward the uniformed officer striking him. The officer fired three shots at the suspect. The suspect continued to accelerate the vehicle, striking a concrete pillar in the front of the store bringing it to a stop.  

Padilla-Tirado was immediately taken into custody. Officers administered first aid to the defendant and the front seat passenger. They were both transported by EMS to the Tower Health-Reading Hospital. The defendant was treated for gunshot wounds to his arm and abdomen. The front seat passenger had minor injuries from broken glass. She was treated and released.

No police officers were injured during this incident.

When Padilla-Tirado was removed from the vehicle and taken into custody, a loaded firearm was found tucked into his waistband. Detectives later learned that this firearm was reported stolen to the Sinking Spring Police Department on November 19, 2021.

Detectives impounded the defendant’s vehicle and obtained a search warrant. Found and seized from inside the vehicle was a substantial amount of cocaine and heroin, which was believed to be possessed with the intent to deliver. Also, a second fully loaded firearm was seized from the front passenger side of the vehicle.

The Berks County District Attorney’s Forensic Services Unit is processing the evidence seized from the vehicle and conducting ballistic examinations of both firearms.    

Currently, the defendant is committed to the Berks County Jail System in lieu of $1,000,000. He is awaiting his preliminary hearing on the charges of Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Receiving Stolen Property, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Firearms Not to Be Carried Without a License, and Possession with the Intent to Deliver Cocaine and Heroin.

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