PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Seven months ago Tuesday, Philadelphia Police Sgt. James O’Connor was shot and killed in the line of duty. Now, the suspects charged with his murder are making their first court appearances.
The court appearance was delayed due to COVID-19. In-person court hearings at the Criminal Justice Center are extremely rare. There are plastic partitions up all over the courtroom.
Prosecutors say the evidence shown Tuesday was damning against the four men held in the murder of O’Connor.
Police carried a .22-caliber long gun that ballistics show was used in the murder of O’Connor into the courtroom Tuesday.
Police say O’Connor was killed on the morning of March 13 when SWAT officers were pursuing two suspects in a 2019 homicide when, police say, shots were fired from the middle bedroom of a home on Bridge Street.
Early on, police identified Hassan Elliott as the prime suspect.
Prosecutors introduced what they called damning evidence — prison notes, or kites as they’re called in jail cell graffiti — against three of four defendants, where they were allegedly boasting about killing a police officer.
O’Connor was posthumously promoted to sergeant.
Members of his SWAT team left the courtroom Tuesday after a full day of testimony.
Attorneys for the four men charged in O’Connor’s killing, as well as prosecutors, declined to comment.
The hearing will continue into Wednesday when the judge will decide if the evidence is strong enough to take this case to trial.