Police Action

Grieving relatives wonder why cops shot their loved ones.

By Kia Gregory
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 3 | Posted Sep. 10, 2003

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Every night the rapid fire of gunshots cuts through Queen Carney's dreams. In Southwest Philadelphia, a community tormented by drugs and violence, the sound of gunfire is hardly rare. But for Carney it's inescapable.

Her son, Edward Shawn "Boo" Pickens, was recently shot and killed by a Philadelphia police officer, and Carney's mind often wanders to gunshots and the thought of Boo falling to the ground. It's a vision that plays over and over again in her head, whether Carney is awake or asleep.

"I just want to ball up in a closet and wither away," says Carney. "I can't imagine anything being more painful than this. I lost a son, a friend, a little brother. It tears my heart out. He was my pride and joy."


Carney was listening to the noon news when she heard that a man had been killed the night before in her Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood. Immediately, Carney called Boo to make sure he was all right and to find out if he knew the victim, but his phone just rang.

Frustrated, she decided to pay him a visit. But she didn't get past her own front door. Her brother, who never came over to her fiance's house, was standing outside. Carney knew something was seriously wrong.

Her brother had come to tell her that her only child was dead. Carney screamed until she passed out on the living room floor. She would lie awake that night wondering why her son was killed.

On Sunday night, Aug. 3, police say Pickens was selling drugs on the 5200 block of Warrington Avenue. When narcotics officers tried to arrest him, police say Pickens fired shots at them. But, says Carney, witnesses claim Pickens was simply walking down the street, unarmed, on his way home from a neighborhood corner store.

Carney says police found no gun or drugs at the scene, but police say that a gun was recovered and that the case is under investigation. Carney, for her part, thinks the evidence is clear--her son was murdered.

What's undisputed about that night is that around 10:15 p.m., narcotics officer John Ramirez shot Pickens once in the head, and about an hour later, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Pickens was pronounced dead.

"The guy that killed my son is a murderer and thief," she says. "He murdered my child and stole my grandchildren's father. What are they supposed to do? They're going to remember that their father got killed for nothing."


Ever since her son was a baby, Carney affectionately called him "Boo." "He was nice and fat," says Carney, remembering Boo as an infant. "He had fat cheeks and fat thighs, and we just started calling him 'Boo,'" she says with a faint giggle.

Carney had Boo when she was 16, raising him in the same Southwest Philadelphia house that she grew up in. Carney admits that being a single parent was hard, and that the two practically grew up together. But she contends that she was a good mother. Her family, neighbors and Boo's father constantly told her so.

"My son never gave me a day's trouble," says Carney, later adding that she had to spank Boo only once when he was 8 years old. Carney says her "evil eye" then became discipline enough.

"I never had to go talk to a teacher, never had to stop a fight--nothing. He was a dedicated son."

At 31, Pickens, 5-foot-8 with a thin build, was low-key, but also known for his sense of humor and what some called his "Kool-Aid" smile.

He was the neighborhood barber and a skillful contractor, and doted on his mother and his three children, ages 14, 12 and 9.

"My son lived with me from birth to 25. I know my son's character," says Carney. "I'd put my hand on a stack of Bibles. He wasn't selling drugs. He hated drugs. He despised drugs. He called them poison."

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1. realisright said... on Nov 16, 2008 at 03:36AM

“Tell me, Kia, before you wrote this story, did you also research the deceased's criminal record or interview all his neighbors or teachers? I am finding it harder and harder to spend time reading any reporter's stories anymore, because I only find out later that there is ALWAYS more information--information that leads to a more truthful representation of the incident or of a person's life and behavior--that the author left out. I would like the media to tell us the whole story, because for so long now, you have only presented one side of stories like this.”

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2. Faheem said... on Jan 20, 2009 at 01:53AM

“Would it be easier for you to accept the killing of yet another black man if someone told you he had a criminal record or perhaps if a neighbor may have reported they caught him selling drugs or beating on his baby mom, maybe that could help you paint a clearer picture of a justifiable murder. Well unfortunately there are none of those circumstances prevalent in this case. DO YOU THINK 150 PLUS PEOPLE WOULD RALLY NOT ONCE, NOT TWICE, BUT THREE TIMES FOR A SOCIAL DEGINERATE? NO! This was a good man, without a criminal record, that got along well with his community, and his behavior was exemplified through good deeds to both friends and family. So if its hard for you to accept that a person could be brutally murdered under the circumstances presented in this article, imagine how it must feel for his family and friends to know how accurate the facts presented are and still be left without him.”

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3. Kenny said... on Oct 3, 2012 at 01:16PM

“You know I never got any resolution to this story, Boo was a friend of mine from the time we were 13 until his demise. I actually attribute him to me never getting in trouble because he was just not into that. I still have no Idea what happened just know I lost a lifelong friend and barber. His mom was right he despised drugs as I do , I believe this is why we clicked so much. unfortunately when Boo was killed I didnt find out until the day of his funeral. I went to his house for a haircut and was told what happend, Had my nephew with me, he was around 9, really didn't understand what was going on just that we would never seen him again. Truly one of the events in my life that still sits wrong with me! From the age of 13 I outgrew many friends but Boo we were still close I still saw him at a minimum every other week! Just want to know what happened that night. I know there are a lot of us with this same question as Boo was a guy with intergrity, he left a lot of friends behind.”

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