U.S. Attorney Blames Philly DA Larry Krasner For Murder Of Cpl. James O'Connor
Philadelphia, PA – The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has pointed the blame for the murder of Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) Corporal James O’Connor squarely at Philadelphia’s notoriously anti-cop District Attorney Larry Krasner.
U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain released a statement on Monday that said the fatal shooting of Cpl. O’Connor by 21-year-old Hassan Elliott on March 13 in Frankford “was the direct result of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s pro-violent-defendant policies.”
“Elliott was on the street for one reason: because of District Attorney Krasner’s pro-violent defendant policies,” the statement read. “Those policies – which include permissive bail conditions for violent offenders, failing to pursue serious probation and parole violations by violent criminals, offering lenient plea deals for violent offenses, and outright withdrawing cases against violent felons – put dangerous criminals like Elliott on the street.”
“All Philadelphians have been living with the negative, and often tragic, consequences of these policies for the 2+ years that the City has had to endure the Krasner regime,” McSwain continued. “But now those consequences could not be clearer. Corporal O’Connor’s widow, his children, his brothers and sisters in law enforcement, and the entire City deserve to know why he died.”
Cpl. O’Connor was a member of the SWAT team that converged on a home in the 1600-block of Bridge Street to serve an arrest warrant for homicide on Elliott at approximately 5:50 a.m. on March 13, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
When the team entered the building, Elliott opened fire on them from behind a closed door, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw told reporters.
Cpl. O’Connor was hit in the shoulder, just above his ballistic vest, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“These officers didn’t get a chance,” Commissioner Outlaw said, according to WHYY. “Gunfire erupted immediately as they walked in the door.”
Officers returned fire, wounding two male suspects who were behind the closed door, according to Commissioner Outlaw.
Elliott was taken into custody, and was not one of the individuals who was shot when police returned fire, WCAU reported.
The wounded corporal was rushed to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Cpl. O’Connor, whose son is also a Philadelphia police officer, served PPD for 23 years and was a 15-year member of the department’s SWAT team, the agency said in a Facebook post on Friday morning.
McSwain asserted in his statement that Elliott should never have been free on the streets to murder Cpl. O’Connor and that a series of bad judgement calls by the District Attorney’s Office had led to the hero’s death.
He said Elliott was a known gang member with a violent criminal history and explained exactly why he should have been behind bars.
The U.S. attorney said that Cpl. O’Connor’s killer was arrested on firearms charges on June 8, 2017 after he threatened a neighbor with a gun, but then Krasner’s office negotiated a plea that sentenced him to only nine to 23 months in prison.
Elliot was paroled on Jan. 24, 2018, the day after he entered his plea, having spent just seven-and-a-half months in prison, according to the statement.
McSwain said Elliott was categorized as a “high risk” offender upon his release and placed under the supervision of the Anti-Violence High Risk Unit, but that didn’t stop him from violating his parole immediately.
Elliott failed multiple drug tests and didn’t report to his parole officer, so a parole violation hearing was scheduled for Feb. 6, 2019, the statement said.
But before that hearing date arrived, Elliott was arrested for possession of cocaine, which was another parole violation, after he was caught with 15 packets of the narcotic.
But McSwain said Krasner’s office did not try to have Elliott taken into custody at that point.
Instead, the District Attorney’s Office allowed Elliott to be released on his own recognizance after the drug arrest, despite the fact he had a parole violation hearing pending.
Elliott was designated as one of the worst violent offenders in Philadelphia in February of 2019 by “Operation Pinpoint,” and still Krasner’s office didn’t attempt to get him off the streets, the U.S. attorney’s statement read.
McSwain said Elliott attended a pre-trial status listing for the pending drug case on March 1, 2019, and then later that day he allegedly murdered Tyree Tyrone on the 5300 block of Duffield Street.
He was caught on video fleeing the scene and his fingerprints were on one of the murder weapons, according to the statement.
The U.S. attorney said Krasner’s office got a warrant for Elliott’s arrest for the murder of Tyrone on March 26, 2019, the day before he was due to appear for his trial on the cocaine case, and then Elliott failed to appear for the March 27 trial.
But despite the fact he had pending murder charges and a host of parole violations in addition to the drug charges, the District Attorney’s office withdrew the cocaine case against Elliott when he didn’t show up, citing prosecutorial discretion, the statement said.
“If Elliott had shown up for court, he would have been arrested for murder,” McSwain explained. “He didn’t know that there was an existing murder warrant, so there was certainly a chance that he would eventually show up for the drug trial if the case had not been withdrawn (he had, in fact, already shown up for it once, on March 1).”
“But that possibility was eliminated when Krasner’s office eagerly withdrew the case,” the U.S, attorney said. “Instead, Corporal O’Connor and his fellow SWAT officers were left to try to hunt Elliott down, with tragic consequences.”
Elliott remained a fugitive at-large until he murdered Cpl. O’Connor.
“The bottom line is that there is no excuse for dropping the cocaine case against Elliott,” McSwain said. “The case was dropped for the same reason that Krasner’s office ignored the many opportunities to purse the serious parole violation in the first place – because this District Attorney’s priorities always lie with violent offenders, consequences be damned.”
“This destructive ideology has earned Krasner the enmity of the Philadelphia Police Department,” he continued. “The Department’s disdain was on full display at Temple Hospital on Friday morning, where officers formed a line to block Krasner’s entrance into the hospital when he tried to visit Corporal O’Connor and his family, who wanted nothing to do with him.”