Prosecutors say men who murdered Philadelphia Sgt. James O’Connor bragged about it in jail

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PHILADELPHIA, PA It’s been seven months since the murder of Philadelphia Police Sgt. James O’Connor and all the men accused have since been arrested and charged with his murder.

In the meantime, prosecutors say, at least three of the accused bragged of the murder in jail and they plan to use their own words to convict them.

During a recent court appearance of the four men alleged to have killed Sgt. O’Connor, prosecutors say they’ve obtained evidence that proves the men have been bragging about the killing while in jail.   

The four men alleged to have committed the murder are 22-year-old Hassan Elliot, 19-year-old Khalif Sears, 20-year-old Bilal Mitchell and 25-year-old Sherman Easterling.

Because the court system has been stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the four alleged killers made their initial court appearance on Oct. 13.

It was during this initial appearance that prosecutors claimed to have what they termed damning evidence – jail house notes (known as kites within the system) where at least three of the four accused have been boasting about the slaying of the police sergeant.

Police were also seen carrying the alleged murder weapon into the courtroom, listed as a .22-caliber long gun that ballistics reportedly show is a match with the weapon that killed the fallen police sergeant.

Members from the SWAT team that Sgt. O’Connor was a part of were also seen filing out of the courtroom after the initial appearance of the accused.

Following the hearing, neither the prosecution nor the attorneys for the four men commented on the case.

The judge was expected to reach a decision Oct. 14 to determine whether the evidence presented against the four suspects is strong enough for the case to proceed to trial.

Sgt. O’Connor was killed on March 13 of this year while attempting to serve a warrant for the arrest of Hassan Elliott, who was reportedly wanted for a murder and robbery in March 2019.

Sgt. O’Connor had arrived at the 1600 block of Bridge Street about 6 a.m., along with other members of the SWAT team.

At the time, Sgt. O’Connor was a corporal with the Philadelphia Police Department and was promoted to the rank of sergeant posthumously.

When the SWAT team approached the apartment complex during that March 13 morning, gunshots started ringing off from the second floor of the building.

According to authorities, it was gunfire emanating from Elliot that delivered the fatal rounds that killed Sgt. O’Connor.

Anthony Voci, chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Unit, commented in April about the case and investigation:

“Myself and my assistant chief, Joanne Pescatore, have literally worked every day since March 13th combing through a variety of evidence.”

Voci noted that those charged in the case weren’t just going to be hit with charges of murder in the killing of Sgt. O’Connor, but they were also going to be facing charges of attempted murder for all the other SWAT team members who came under fire that day:

“They are charged with the murder of Sgt. O’Connor and the attempted murder of his seven SWAT team members. We are additionally filing criminal conspiracy charges against Mitchell, Sears and Hassan Elliott as a result of our investigation.”

The criminal conspiracy charges, according to Voci, stem from the alleged criminal activities that some of the accused participated in prior to the murder of Sgt. O’Connor. Voci explained:

“The evidence we developed in this case is that Mr. Sears, Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Elliott were part of a street gang and they conducted a lot of illegal activity that supported each other.

“The killing of Sgt. O’Connor was an act in furtherance of that conspiracy. It was something that had been discussed and could be foreseen, from that perspective.”

With the introduction of this “damning” evidence in court, it seems that the prosecution has quite the compelling case against at least three of the four accused in this crime.

However, it is unclear as to which three out of the four suspects were among those who crafted these jailhouse kites bragging about this police sergeant’s murder.

Wanted: Police identify one of the shooters who fired on three Philadelphia officers

Sept. 19, 2020 – PHILADELPHIA, PA  Authorities in Philadelphia are seeking two suspects who they say opened fire on police officers while they were conducting an undercover narcotics investigation.

While both suspects are currently at large, authorities have identified one allegedly involved.

Police are seeking the public’s assistance in locating 28-year-old Jeffione Thomas, who allegedly was involved in the Sept. 18 shooting of three plainclothes officers who were fired upon in the 1400 block of Sharpnack Street in the Cedarbrook neighborhood.

Prosecutors say men who murdered Philadelphia Sgt. James O’Connor bragged about it in jail
Jeffione Thomas – Philadelphia Police

According to officials, the officers were in an unmarked vehicle about 8 p.m. when a man, identified as Thomas, rode by the vehicle’s driver-side window.

When one of the officers rolled down the window to see if Thomas was OK, Thomas allegedly pulled out a gun and opened fire at the officers inside the unit.

The driver of the unmarked unit had pulled off on Sharpnack Street, past the intersection of 7700 Fayette St., when Thomas reportedly starting firing at the vehicle.

The officer driving the vehicle then crashed into a fence after being struck in the back by one of the rounds.

Luckily, the officer was wearing a bulletproof vest, which took the brunt of the bullet. The officers then exited the vehicle and all returned fire at Thomas. A second shooter appeared and started firing at the officers as well.

Both of the suspects reportedly fled the scene after the shooting.

The male officer who was struck in the back is reportedly in stable condition after having been treated at Einstein Medical Center.

A female officer who was seated in the rear passenger seat during the shooting suffered minor cuts to her left leg, possibly from crashing into the fence or broken glass. The officer was also treated at Einstein Medical Center and was reportedly stable. The third officer, a male, was in the front passenger seat and reportedly uninjured during the shooting and subsequent crash.

Thomas has been described as being a black male standing about 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighing about 180 pounds. His last-known address was within the 7800 block of Fayette Street.

Philadelphia: 2020 homicide rate already exceeds year end rates for every year since 2007

PHILADELPHIA, PA – According to Philadelphia’s city controller, Philadelphia will reach 450 murders for the year if the current trend continues.

The current number of murders, as of October 6, 2020, is 363. That is more murders than recorded by the end of any year dating back to 2007, when 391 murders were recorded. It is worth noting, however, that as of October 6, 2007, only 309 murders had been recorded.

For every year between 2007 and 2020, the annual homicide rate ranged between a low of 192 murders in 2013 and a high of 260 in 2019.

In other words, this is not a trend. It is an outlier. Crime statistics on the Philadelphia Police Department web page do not include information before 2007.

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney explained that the crime spike is due to economic factors. The good news, according to Kenney, is that police are doing their best. His solution, if his tweets are anything to go by, is gun control and community activism.

The mayor’s tweet includes a link to a story that discusses other crime prevention efforts, most of which seem reasonable, but on examination may not be quite as robust as they could be. 

For instance, several of the programs are designed to react to murders after they happen. Take a look at the readily-accessible Philadelphia crime map to see the few neighborhoods where all the murders occur, and all the neighborhoods that are crime-free.

Some of the measures proposed in the plan touted by the mayor deal with emotions stirred by the violence. They suggest “Peace walks” to promote positive values in the city and social support for people who might otherwise turn to a life of crime. 

All of these sound good but there is a flaw in the clever plan. It is easily seen in a video, taken during one of the riots in Philadelphia.

As anyone can see by watching this video, rioters commit crimes in direct view of police officers. A severely vandalized police vehicle is violently pushed toward a row of police officers, who stand firm, but do nothing. Why? Because they were told to stand down.

The community policing ideas of the mayor aren’t bad, they’re just pointless if he is simultaneously telling the police commissioner to stand down. It’s a bit like suggesting that people should water their plants more often to fight a fire that is currently destroying a home. First put out the fire, then worry about the garden.

Philadelphia’s new police commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, is no dummy. She knows what is going on and how to get her message through despite the many censorious political filters she must be sensitive to.

Outlaw rightly points out that, “We are only one component of the criminal justice system. And the notion that the police department alone can cure the pandemic of gun violence is not only erroneous but it absolves other stakeholders of their duty to participate in the solution to this public health crisis”

What are the “other components” Outlaw referred to? One of those is surely the office of Mayor Jim Kenney. 

A quick check on the mayor demonstrates his exact level of commitment to law enforcement. It was on his order that hundreds of citations issued by police during “civil unrest” in the city have been waived.

When asked for an explanation, Kenney responded, “My decision to waive these violations is not a statement on the validity of the individual citations.

Rather, it is a recognition of the core concerns that caused thousands to demonstrate on the streets of Philadelphia.”

If that wasn’t clear enough, he added that “In waiving these notices, I recognize that those issues are vitally important, that the pain of those marching is very real, and that their message — black lives matter — needs to be heard every day until systemic racism is fully eradicated from this city and nation.”

So, according to the mayor, rioting is more important than protecting the people of Philadelphia from riot damage and the criminals who cause it.

That might interfere with all the idealistic plans he promoted for community policing measures that amount to a lot of talk and very little action. Or when they do require action, he puts a stop to it by ordering officers to stand down.

Another area of concern might be the office of District Attorney Lawrence S. Krasner.

Krasner was helped into office in 2018 by George Soros, who donated almost $1.5 million to his campaign via a PAC. That is more than seven times the $200,000 raised independently by Krasner.

Why would Soros back Krasner? His official bio on the city of Philadelphia’s website, paints him as a classic anti-police radical.

Krasner openly supports ACT UP, the Marxist group Black Lives Matter (BLM), Occupy Philly, Reclaim Philadelphia, and other radical groups. It is exactly the kind of resume one might expect in a callow youth dreaming of success as a singer-songwriter, but should be poison to the candidacy of a district attorney.

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To top it all off, Krasner doesn’t mind prosecuting police officers for doing their jobs. Back in June, three so-called “protesters dangerously blocked Interstate 676. Officer Richard Nicoletti used OC spray to disperse the protesters using non-lethal means.

Krasner then filed charges against Nicoletti with “three counts of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, official oppression, and one count of possession of an instrument of crime.” 

That is exactly the kind of person Soros always backs in these contests, almost as if he is trying to destroy the rule of law in America by co-opting those most directly responsible for enforcing it. If district attorneys refuse to prosecute crime, the number of criminals captured by police will be irrelevant. 

The police commissioner knows this. As commissioner Outlaw stated in a recent press conference, “there must be real consequences for those who engage in gun violence. Consequences that not only hold those actors accountable but that also serve to deter others.”

How can there be consequences if the mayor wants the police to stand down and the district attorney won’t prosecute those criminals sent to him for prosecution? 

Danielle Outlaw has to deal with many problems in the city of Philadelphia. They can be looked at as failures in police sensitivity, or maybe, just maybe, it is the elected officials of Philadelphia who aren’t sensitive enough.

Maybe they don’t care about crime at all. Maybe they think it is fine for the citizens of Philadelphia to be murdered, robbed, and raped at unprecedented levels. How else can the product of their leadership be explained? Easy, it can’t.

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