Philadelphia contractor, Griffin Campbell, is being charged with murder, manslaughter and reckless endangerment for his role in overseeing the demolition of a building that buried six shoppers in an adjacent Salvation Army thrift store. There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the incident as reports came out very quickly that corners were cut.
As reported by the Associated Press, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said Griffin Campbell is also being charged with risking a catastrophe and criminal conspiracy in addition to the six counts of third-degree murder, six counts of involuntary manslaughter, and 13 counts of endangerment (there were 13 survivors). Though no one was injured in the building being demolished, an unsupported wall collapsed and trapped shoppers inside the neighboring Salvation Army.
Campbell is the second to be charged for the botched building demolition. Excavator operator Sean Benschop was charged this summer with six counts of involuntary manslaughter for allegedly operating heavy equipment while high on marijuana and painkillers. In this stunning YouTube video, Benschop can be seen using a crane to tear down the facade of the building. The lack of oversight and safety equipment is cringe worthy. Not to mention the poor guy holding the hose.
D.A. Williams says the collapse is still under investigation but referred to Campbell as the person “at the center of culpability for the collapse.” Campbell ignored an architect’s warning the night before the June 5 collapse to brace the wall seen in the video against the thrift store.
The building owner, Richard Basciano, has not been charged with any crimes as of Monday. Basciano, once dubbed the pornography king of New York’s Times Square, reportedly had his attorneys and possibly city officials involved in pushing the project through. Several lawsuits have been filed by the victims’ families against Basciano, who was hoping to redevelop the block, along with Campbell, Benschop and others.
Williams refused to comment on Basciano’s involvement, maintaining that Campbell alone chose the demolition method, cutting corners to meet a deadline and cut costs, as he was being paid a flat fee. While the case is still under review by the grand jury, there are likely to be more individuals implicated in this preventable tragedy. The main question that remains is, did the city have any liability in overseeing the demolition of the buildings? If so, do you think the city of Philadelphia should have to answer for their neglect in the process?