Explosive testimony in first day of preliminary hearing involving murder of Sgt. James O’Connor

Sgt. James O’Connor
Sgt. James O’Connor Photo credit Philadelphia Police Department
By KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It was an explosive testimony during the first day of the preliminary hearing against the men charged in the murder of Philadelphia Police SWAT Sgt. James O’Connor, who was killed in March while serving an arrest warrant.

Hassan Elliott, Khalif Sears, Bilal Mitchell and Sherman Easterling sat through the daylong preliminary hearing, listening as SWAT officers recalled the gunfire they encountered as they went into the apartment on Bridge Street in Frankford to serve an arrest warrant for Elliott, when they say O’Connor screamed, “I’m hit, I’m hit.”

He was struck in the back of the armpit, tumbled down the stairs, and later died at the hospital.

Investigators rolled out a mannequin dressed in O’Connor’s punctured uniform and the door riddled with bullet holes.

They showed the judge the .20-caliber rifle authorities say O’Connor was killed with.

Elliot, Sears and Mitchell face murder charges for O’Connor’s killing. Easterling faces conspiracy and gun charges.

Prosecutors also called a prison guard and a detective about notes sent back and forth between Elliott, Sears and Mitchell after the killing, where authorities say they conspired, joked and pointed to Elliott at the shooter.

And they say in his prison cell are nicknames of four other homicide victims — the fifth name listed is O’Connor.

Defense attorneys tried to poke holes in the case and specifically peppered one of the detectives about how he knows who said what.

Another day of testimony is expected, outlining their social media posts and exchanges.