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Landlord-Tenant Officer Shoots Tenant In Head While Carrying Out Eviction At Sharswood Apartment Building

A violent incident at a Sharswood apartment building left a 35-year-old woman in critical condition and shined a fresh light on Philadelphia's privatized system for carrying out evictions.

Girard Court Apartments, across the street from Girard College in the Sharswood neighborhood, seen in May 2022.

The woman was shot in the head Wednesday morning by a deputy landlord-tenant officer who was carrying out an eviction order against her and her husband, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The couple had been living in a first-floor unit at Girard Court Apartments at 2101 North College Ave., across the street from Girard College.

The deputy who discharged his weapon told law enforcement that the shot came after a physical altercation, which involved a knife, in the hallway outside the apartment in question, the Inquirer reports. The tenant was conscious when loaded into an ambulance, which took her to Penn Presbyterian Hospital, an eyewitness told the Inquirer. No charges have been filed.

The tenant owed at least $8K in unpaid rent, and a judge denied her appeal to delay an eviction ruling last month, the Inquirer reports. The building is owned by Girard Courts Apartments LP, an affiliate of Odin Properties.

"Ownership is aware of the incident and cooperating with authorities to assist in the investigation," an Odin spokesperson said in an emailed response to a Bisnow request for comment.

Odin's affiliate has filed three eviction claims against tenants at the 80-unit Girard Court Apartments this year after making at least 20 such filings last year, the Inquirer reports.

In Philly, eviction court orders are handled by a private attorney's office handpicked by the Philadelphia Municipal Court. Since 2017, that contract has been held by Marisa Shuter, whose firm hires and trains private security personnel — often retired police officers — to serve as deputy landlord-tenant officers, the Inquirer reports.

Shuter was awarded the contract, which has paid millions of dollars in fees collected from landlords, in a private, noncompetitive process, the Inquirer reports. Her husband, David Shuter, sits on the municipal court and has presided over eviction hearings that have produced work for his wife's office, WHYY reports. Marisa Shuter's father, Alan Silberstein, formerly ran the municipal court system as president judge.

The Philadelphia Police Department is handling the incident as an officer-involved shooting, despite the landlord-tenant deputy not being a sworn law enforcement officer. The incident is the first shooting to occur during an eviction attempt since the 1990s, the Inquirer reports.

Since September 2020, Philadelphia has forced landlords to go through the Eviction Diversion Program, which attempts to mediate landlord-tenant disputes, before they can file for eviction. Soon after the court decision that led to the Girard Court eviction, the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp. began awarding rental assistance to some EDP participants, drawing from a $30M pool of city funds.