Officer Friel was killed when his patrol car was struck by another vehicle driven by a drunk driver. The driver was convicted of charges filed in connection with Officer Friel's death and sentenced to 3 to 6 years in jail.
Officer Friel had served with the agency for only 6 months and was assigned to the 5th Police District. He was survived by his son, two sisters, and a brother. Officer Friel's brother also served as a Philadelphia police officer. One of Officer Friel's uncles was killed in the line of duty in 1986 while serving with the Philadelphia Fire Department.