Shutting down cities due to the Wuhan virus does not shut down murderers.
As the Philadelphia SWAT team was attempting to serve a warrant to Hassan Elliott, the suspect allegedly fired multiple rounds through his apartment door, fatally striking 23-year veteran Cpl. James O’Connor IV. While cop killings have become all too common recently, that is not the end of the story.
William McSwain, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, is now accusing Larry Krasner, the most vocal of the Soros-backed “justice reform” district attorneys, of keeping Elliott out of prison.
“Elliott was on the street for one reason: because of District Attorney Krasner’s pro-violent defendant policies,” said McSwain in a press release. “Those policies – which include permissive bail conditions for violent offenders, failing to pursue serious probation and parole violations by violent criminals, offering lenient plea deals for violent offenses, and outright withdrawing cases against violent felons – put dangerous criminals like Elliott on the street.”
McSwain, who has been in a war of words with Krasner for two years, went on to detail Elliott’s criminal history. “On June 8, 2017, Elliott was arrested on firearms charges, stemming from an incident in which he threatened a neighborhood resident with a gun. On January 24, 2018, he entered into a negotiated plea: Krasner’s office offered, and Elliott accepted, a below-guidelines sentence of 9 to 23 months’ incarceration, followed by 3 years of reporting probation.”
The result? Elliott was paroled on the same day, after serving just seven months and 16 days for a violent gun charge, even though he is a known member of a violent local gang and is even seen on video brandishing a weapon with his face behind a mask. Liberal politicians suddenly find guns to be innocuous, so long as you are a gang member who assaults someone with one.
McSwain also details how Elliott was accused of violating his parole numerous times. Yet despite those violations and an arrest for possession of cocaine, Elliott was freed in January 2019 without any bail being set. Remember, when liberals like Krasner talk about going soft on “low-level” drug possession, they refuse to factor in prior history. In this case, the police parole department labeled him as a “high risk” offender.
On March 1, 2019, just hours after he walked out of a court hearing stemming from the cocaine charge, Elliott and another gang member allegedly fatally shot Tyree Tyrone at close range. According to McSwain, “Video showed Elliott fleeing the scene and his fingerprints were found on one of the alleged murder weapons.”
OK, by now you’re thinking, a guy like this, especially after being targeted by police as one of the most dangerous suspects under “Operation Pinpoint” – even before the murder – would be behind bars, right? Not under Krasner’s definition of “low-level, nonviolent” offender. Krasner chose to drop the cocaine charge after Elliott became a fugitive and failed to show up at court three weeks later.
“The drug case should not have been dropped because it could have – and should have – been used as a means to get Elliott into custody and off the street on the murder warrant,” wrote McSwain. “If Elliott had shown up for court, he would have been arrested for murder. He didn’t know that there was an existing murder warrant, so there was certainly a chance that he would eventually show up for the drug trial if the case had not been withdrawn (he had, in fact, already shown up for it once, on March 1). But that possibility was eliminated when Krasner’s office eagerly withdrew the case.”
Thus, Krasner had multiple opportunities to ensure that Elliott was behind bars, thereby saving two lives. “Krasner has infected the District Attorney’s Office with a sickness that has deadly consequences for the entire City,” concluded McSwain in the lengthy statement. “Enough is enough. This madness must stop.”
So how does this all tie back into the issue of the day – Wuhan coronavirus? Well, as I reported yesterday, blue cities throughout the country are either releasing criminals they refer to as “low-level” or are urging police not to arrest them for crimes during the crisis. Fox 29 reports that Philly police are being told to process “low-level” criminals but defer their arrests until a warrant is served after the crisis is over. Good luck finding them at that point, and God knows how many more crimes they will commit.
So which crimes are considered low-level under the order? All narcotics offenses, theft from persons, retail theft, theft from auto, burglary, vandalism, all bench warrants, stolen auto, economic crimes, and prostitution.
Look, we all understand that there are staffing and logistical problems now, but to prospectively announce such a categorical jailbreak will openly invite rampant undeterred lawlessness. Some of these offenses are serious crimes and are very harmful to society. Moreover, those referring to “low-level” crimes in this context keep ignoring the point. So many of these crimes are committed by violent gang members. This will lead to more needless murders because so many people with records like Hassan Elliott will be let out indefinitely after being caught for theft or drugs, regardless of their prior records.
One thing is clear: While restaurant owners fear arrest for defying the shutdown, many criminals will have free rein to burglarize their vacant stores. How are we supposed to respect the government’s unprecedented economic shutdown when we are seeing a drastic asymmetry of priorities and justice?
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.