Charges filed in killing of SWAT officer

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Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw announces murder charges in connection with the killing of Cpl. James O’Connor.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw announces murder charges in connection with the killing of Cpl. James O’Connor.PHOTO: JACK TOMCZUK

A 21-year-old man who police believe is connected with multiple recent shootings in Frankford was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder in connection with the killing of Cpl. James O’Connor.

Hassan Elliot was being processed at the police department’s headquarters as Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and others announced his arrest alongside O’Connor’s family. It’s expected additional charges will be filed in the case.

“This investigation is far from over,” said Lt. Jason Hendershot, of the department’s officer-involved shooting unit. “We’re not done.”

O’Connor, 46, who was posthumously promoted to sergeant, was shot twice Friday while serving an arrest warrant for Elliot at 1688 Bridge St. in Frankford. He was the first Philadelphia police officer killed in the line of duty in five years.

The District Attorney’s Office said a 22-caliber assault rifle was used to fire 21 bullets through a closed second-floor bedroom door at O’Connor and other officers. Investigators believe Elliot was the gunman.

Hassan Elliot

Elliot and three other people, all of whom are still being investigated, were in the room at the time, Hendershot said. Authorities found 10 guns at the scene.

Hendershot said dozens of interviews, forensic testing and other investigative techniques were used to establish evidence needed to charge Elliot.

Officers were looking for Elliot in connection with the March 2019 robbery and killing of Tyree Tyrone on the 5300 block of Duffield Street in Frankford. He has since been charged with that murder alongside 18-year-old Khalif Sears, who was also in the house when O’Connor was shot.

Elliot has also been charged with a non-fatal shooting that occurred Dec. 27 on the 1900 block of Bridge Street, the DA’s Office said.

He’s a known member of the “1700” gang that operates mainly in the area of the 1700 blocks of Brill and Scattergood streets, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In a music video posted on YouTube for a song called “Frankford Purge,” Elliot and others are seen brandishing handguns. Sears also appears in the video.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain criticized DA Larry Kranser’s office for their handling of previous criminal matters involving Elliot, including probation violations and a January arrest for cocaine possession.

“Elliott was on the street for one reason: because of District Attorney Krasner’s pro-violent defendant policies,” McSwain, a frequent Krasner critic, said in a statement.

“Krasner has infected the District Attorney’s Office with a sickness that has deadly consequences for the entire city,” he continued. “Enough is enough. This madness must stop.”

The DA’s Office said Elliot’s cocaine charge was dropped after McSwain’s office notified them that an officer involved in that arrest had admitted to providing false testimony and could be charged with perjury.

In addition to Elliot and Sears, Bilal Mitchell, 19, and Sherman Easterling, 24, were inside the house, and both were taken into custody, authorities said.

Mitchell was found with 59 vials of crack cocaine and is being held on $1 million bail, the DA’s Office said. Prosecutors are pushing for his bail to be revoked.

Easterling has been detained for parole violations and will be in state prison pending further court proceedings, according to the DA’s Office.

Funeral services for O’Connor, a 23-year veteran of the force, were set for later this week but later postponed due to growing concerns over the COVID-19 virus.

Lt. Jason Hendershot, of the Police Department’s officer-involved shooting unit, said “This investigation is far from over,” during a press conference held earlier today. PHOTO: JACK TOMCZUK