Fallen Philadelphia SWAT Sgt. James O’Connor honored with plaque dedication

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By KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Hundreds gathered in the rain outside police union headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia on Friday for a plaque dedication honoring SWAT Sgt. James O’Connor, who was killed in March while serving an arrest warrant for a murder suspect.

Police, union and law enforcement leaders huddled under umbrellas and listened to a tearful Terry O’Connor speak of the constant delays since her husband was killed.

“With the way this week is going, I expected nothing but torrential downpours,” she said.

On Wednesday, the preliminary hearing for the accused shooters had to be delayed, after a pregnant defense attorney went into labor in the courtroom. The hearing has been rescheduled for next month.

Among other delays was O’Connor’s funeral, which had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“All of this has seemed like a constant test of my strength,” Terry O’Connor continued. “Somehow people believe I am passing all these tests with flying colors, all the while I am feeling so lost.”

Then with her son, who is also a Philadelphia police officer, she laid roses on the plaque honoring her late husband. It’s engraved with his badge number, 8162, which members of his SWAT unit donned at the ceremony.

“It’s inspiring to see how many people consider Jimmy their best friend. It was his welcoming demeanor, contagious smile and laugh,” Terry O’Connor sobbed. “He would stop everything to answer a call and help out a friend.”

“Without a doubt, the passage of time has not lessened the pain of the loss felt,” echoed Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. “Jimmy O’Connor is and always will be a hero in every sense of the word.”

“James O’Connor was shot as his SWAT team was arresting a murder suspect — that’s only part of the story. The real story was he was shot trying to keep us safe,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

“The legacy that Jimmy O’Connor leaves behind is not just of bravery and public service, and of honor and integrity, but his legacy is secured by the everyday moments of how he lived his life,” added U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain.

Mayor Jim Kenney did not attend the plaque dedication due to a prior commitment. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner was not invited.