Phil Holland was a 20-year old student neighbors say was "a great neighbor, you couldn't ask for a nicer neighbor." Holland was working two tough jobs to put himself through school, at a restaurant inside Philadelphia Airport, and delivering pizza in a dangerous neighborhood.
Now Phillippe Holland lies in critical condition with gunshot wounds to the head, neck and leg after Philadelphia plainclothes police opened fire on him over what they now say was likely a misunderstanding.
In a Philadelphia's Kingsessing neighborhood where deliverymen face the constant threat of muggings, Phil Holland may have believed the plainclothes officers were actually thugs out to rob and maybe even kill him.
As for the cops, they were responding to a report of gunfire in the area, and they thought Phil Holland looked suspicious.
"Until we talk to him we won't have all the answers, but he may have thought he was being robbed," said Philly Police Commissioner Charles Ramsay. "Although the officers said they announced that they were officers, in an area like that, everyone was hypervigilant — both the officers and the person who was shot — and it turned out not to be a good result."
The officers said that Phil Holland, who around 10 pm had just made his last delivery of the evening from the Slices and More pizza joint, was walking down the street with his hoodie up and his hands in his pockets.
But when the two armed cops ordered him to stop, he ran to his Ford Taurus, jumped in and sped toward the officers — whom he likely mistook for criminals.
The cops thought he was trying to run them down, so they fired into the car 10 times. Three bullets struck Phil Holland.
"This is a young man who has two jobs" and a good family, Ramsey said, after visiting Holland in University of Pennsylvania Hospital and speaking with the hard-working student's mother.
"I'm shocked! I'm shocked anything happened to him," said one of Holland's neighbors, Dorothy Taylor, in the Upper Darby neighborhood where Phil Holland lived with his girlfriend. "He's such a nice guy."
He was known around the neighborhood for frequently sitting on his porch and greeting neighbors.
"Every time you walked past his house he always says hi. He tries to help out everybody," said another neighbor, Christine Harris.
Police said that Phil Holland has no criminal record and was not armed when the plainclothes cops shot him.
The Philadelphia police Internal Affairs department is now investigating the shooting of Phil Holland, but Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross said that though the officers may indeed have thought Holland was trying to run them over, department policy prohibits firing at moving vehicles because the risk of hitting bystanders is too great.