D.A. convenes grand jury to investigate fatal building collapse

building collapse
More criminal charges are possible in last week’s fatal building collapse. (Credit: Rikard Larma / Metro)

District Attorney Seth Williams announced Monday that his office is convening a grand jury to investigate possible criminal charges in connection with the 22nd and Market streets building collapse, which last week killed six people and injured 13 more.

The District Attorney’s Office this weekend charged demolition site excavator operator Sean Benschop, 42, with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, risking a catastrophe and causing a catastrophe for allegedly operating the heavy machinery while under the influence of codeine and marijuana.

“Philadelphians have no shortage of opinions of the many people that should be held responsible for the perceived actions and inactions that may have played a role in the chain of events that led to the building collapsing,” Williams said.

“While some may be held responsible in civil court, the role of the grand jury will be to hear from witnesses, to gather documents, to gather information and to then determine if anyone in addition to Mr. Benschop should be held criminally responsible.”

But he asked that Philadelphians not rush to judgment.

“I know Philadelphians demand action,” he said.

“I have heard their voices loud and clear everywhere that I have gone this weekend via email and text, as have all of you.”

He said the grand jury will methodically review the actions and inactions of both the demolition site contractor and property owner, as well as determine whether there were any systemic failures on the part of city officials and others responsible for site safety oversight.

“The grand jury in this case, of course, will investigate and gather all the documents that preceded and may have allowed for the building’s collapse, any and all of the agencies, the protocols, the policies that everyone in Philadelphia is talking about when they’re in the barber shop or the nail salon about what their opinions are,” Williams said.

“Again, my role as District Attorney is not to play that parlor game, but to find the facts and the evidence. The grand jury will do that and I believe, of course, that their report may include those findings and more.”

A similar investigative grand jury was impaneled last year after a partial collapse during a four-alarm warehouse fire killed two firefighters.

That investigation is still ongoing – grand juries can take several years to review evidence and issue findings.

“We want Philadelphians to be patient as we gather all of the evidence and as we do what we think is appropriate in accordance with the law and due process,” Williams said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…