PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Four men who are allegedly members of a drug trafficking group in the Frankford section of the city are facing federal murder charges in the shooting death of Philadelphia Police Sgt. James O’Connor. U.S. Attorney William McSwain announced a seven-count indictment Thursday against 22-year-old Hassan Elliott, 20-year-old Bilal Mitchell, 19-year-old Khalif Sears and 25-year-old Sherman Easterling.
Elliott is facing the death penalty.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner had already filed murder and other charges against the four suspects, but McSwain wants to take over the case, and it’s something the officer’s widow, Terri O’Connor, also wants to see happen.
“My husband gave his life so these four violent criminals could be taken off the streets of Philadelphia,” O’Connor said.
“I don’t need to be the next Maureen Faulkner and have 40 years of fighting ahead of me.” Terri O’Connor, widow of slain Sgt. James O’Connor, reacts to the announcement a federal conspiracy indictment has been filed against her husband’s 4 accused killers. @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/ZaLoNkOyse
— Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) December 10, 2020
O’Connor fought back tears speaking outside the federal courthouse in Old City, while remembering her late husband.
The 46-year-old Philadelphia police sergeant was shot and killed in the line of duty in the city’s Frankford section while serving a warrant back in March.
“His death should give others peace knowing they wouldn’t encounter these individuals for the rest of their lives,” O’Connor said.
Elliott, 22, is accused of firing the gun that killed Sgt. O’Connor.
“Sgt. O’Connor’s murder was entirely preventable,” McSwain said.
McSwain unsealed a seven-count federal indictment issued from a grand jury. Federal prosecutors say the four suspects are members of 1700 Scattergood, a violent drug trafficking group in the Frankford section of Northeast Philadelphia.
The death penalty could be on the table for Elliott. He also faces homicide charges from two other unrelated cases.
“Hassan Elliott never should have been on the street in the first place. He should have been in jail,” McSwain said. “The only reason he was out of jail is because of the pro-defendant policies of District Attorney Larry Krasner. ”
While Krasner has already filed murder charges in the case, he opposes the death penalty. Now, McSwain is calling for Krasner to remove his office from the case so federal prosecutors can take control.
“It’s pretty clear these criminals were on the streets because our DA, Larry Krasner. His slap-on-the-wrist penalties has caused me a lifetime of sorrow,” O’Connor said.
The DA’s office wouldn’t say if it would remove itself from the case, but McSwain said it’s possible for his office and the DA’s office to each try the case at the same time.
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