U.S. Attorney announces federal charges in killing of Sgt. James O'Connor

U.S. Attorney William McSwain has announced federal charges in the shooting death of a Philadelphia SWAT officer earlier this year.

McSwain announced Thursday that an indictment was unsealed charging four defendants with the murder of Philadelphia Police Corporal James “Jimmy” O’Connor, who was posthumously promoted to Sergeant, and related drug trafficking and firearms offenses. 

Hassan Elliott, 22, Bilal Mitchell, 20, Khalif Sears, 19, and Sherman Easterling, 25, were all charged in the seven-count indictment. All four are charged with murder, as well as drug and weapons offenses.

The indictment alleges that the defendants are members of a violent drug trafficking group known as "1700 Scattergood," which operates in the Frankford section of Northeast Philadelphia.

Cpl. James O'Connor IV (Philadelphia Police Department)

Police say Sgt. O'Connor was killed during a SWAT operation to arrest Elliot, who was suspected in a separate homicide.

SWAT officers made entry into a home on the 1600 block of Bridge Street on the morning of March 13 when police say Elliot opened fire on officers through a closed front door.

Investigators say Sgt. O'Connor was in the line of fire and fatally struck by gunfire.

Last month, all four men were ordered to stand trial on charges filed by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office earlier this year.

"The murder of a police officer is one of the most agonizing things that a community can experience, and my heart goes out to the O’Connor family. Sadly, this year has already seen more shootings in Philadelphia than in any other year – ever," said U.S. Attorney McSwain. "In order to address this epidemic of violence in our city, we must have the courage to tell the truth. The truth is that, as a practical matter, District Attorney Larry Krasner’s pro-violent defendant policies are what kept Hassan Elliott on the street; they put this horrible chain of events in motion; and in that sense, they are every bit as responsible for Sergeant O’Connor’s alleged murder as the defendants. While we cannot bring Sergeant O’Connor back, we can honor him by seeking justice and doing all that we can to prevent this type of tragedy from occurring again."

Hassan-Elliot (Philadelphia Police Department)

Hassan Elliott, 22, accused of being the gunman, and three co-defendants were ordered held for trial on charges including murder, conspiracy, attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, and weapons offenses.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office says they are currently prosecuting Elliott for three separate murders as well as one non-fatal shooting. He also faces other charges related to those incidents. 

O'Connor is survived by his wife and two children. His son is a Philadelphia police officer as well.



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