Off-duty cop to be charged for speeding into, killing pedestrian

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A Philadelphia police officer who allegedly struck and killed a pedestrian while off-duty and speeding on Cottman Avenue is expected to be charged Wednesday with homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter, authorities said.

Officer Adam Soto will also be suspended from the force for 30 days with the intent to dismiss, said Commissioner Richard Ross.

Soto had been accused of striking Danny Dimitri, 50, a chef at a Burholme seafood restaurant, as Dimitri walked across Cottman near Algon Avenue around 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 31. Dimitri was going to catch a bus to pick up his paycheck at work, his family said.

After the crash, investigators were seeking to determine whether Soto was drag racing another car driven by another off-duty officer. A third off-duty officer was a passenger in that other car, authorities said last month.

Ross said the other officers were not expected to be charged Wednesday, but that the driver would be fired for conduct unbecoming of an officer.

Kathleen Martin, first assistant district attorney, said a criminal investigation was ongoing.

A source with knowledge of the investigation said that while Soto continually accelerated until he collided with Dimitri, the second driver slowed down and actually stopped at a traffic light that Soto sped through.

Dimitri’s family said last month that they had been told Soto was driving between 80 and 90 m.p.h. when he struck Dimitri. The speed limit in that area – just outside Northeast High School – is 30 m.p.h.

Witnesses said that Dimitri had no time to get out of the way, and surveillance video from a nearby pizza shop captured footage of his clothes flying and his body landing against a pole.

Outside the DA’s Office Wednesday, Dimitri’s sister, Cherylann Dimitri, 58, said she drives by the site where her brother was killed every day on her way to work. She misses his warm and gregarious spirit and cooking family meals with him on holidays.

She wants all three officers to be charged in connection with her brother’s death, saying she remains devastated by his sudden and unexpected loss.

“My life,” she said, “will never be the same.”

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