4 men face federal charges for fatal shooting of Philadelphia Police Sgt. O’Connor

Philadelphia Police Sgt. James O'Connor
Federal charges have been filed against four men in the murder of Philadelphia Police Sgt. James O'Connor. O'Connor was serving an arrest warrant for a murder suspect in March when he was shot and killed. Photo credit Philadelphia Police Department

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Federal charges have been filed against four men in the murder of a Philadelphia police sergeant, who was shot and killed while serving a warrant in the Frankford section of the city earlier this year.

The fatal shooting happened in March when SWAT officers were trying to serve a warrant to 21-year-old Hassan Elliott for a 2019 murder.

Authorities say he is the man who fired the deadly shot during the raid that killed Philadelphia Police Sgt. James O’Connor, a 23-year veteran of the police department. He was posthumously promoted to sergeant.

William McSwain, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, announced federal charges against Elliott on Thursday, as well as three other defendants: 19-year-old Khalif Sears, 20-year-old Bilal Mitchell, and 25-year-old Sherman Easterling.

According to the indictment, they are members of a violent drug trafficking group in Frankford known as 1700 Scattergood.

All four men are charged with murder in the course of using or carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, as well as other drug- and gun-related offenses.

McSwain said O’Connor’s death was entirely preventable, and he blames Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner for his policies that return violent offenders to the street.

“The truth is, as a practical matter, Krasner’s pro-violent defendant policies are what put Elliott on the street,” said McSwain. “They put this horrible chain of events in motion and in that sense, these policies are every bit responsible for Sgt. O’Connor’s alleged murder as (are) the defendants.”

In response, a spokesperson for Krasner’s office only said: “No statement beyond a request that the events leading up this tragedy be reported accurately. Our office approved arrest warrants for murder for both Sears and Elliott a year before Corporal O’Connor’s tragic killing.”

If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of life in prison. However, the federal action makes Elliott eligible for the death penalty.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Philadelphia Police Department