Federal Prosecutor Blames Philadelphia DA For Shootout That Wounded Six Philly PD Officers

from the and-zero-respect-for-the-general-public dept

Inside Attorney General William Barr's long rant about the lack of respect for police officers in this nation was a shot or two at recently-elected District Attorneys (like Philadelphia's Larry Krasner). Barr feels -- like many of the police union reps he was speaking to -- DAs that institute reforms, reduce incarceration, and punish police officers for misconduct are on the wrong side of history.

There is another development that is demoralizing to law enforcement and dangerous to public safety. That is the emergence in some of our large cities of District Attorneys that style themselves as “social justice” reformers, who spend their time undercutting the police, letting criminals off the hook, and refusing to enforce the law.

These anti-law enforcement DAs have tended to emerge in jurisdictions where the election is largely determined by the primary. Frequently, these candidates ambush an incumbent DA in the primary with misleading campaigns and large infusions of money from outside groups.

Once in office, they have been announcing their refusal to enforce broad swathes of the criminal law. Most disturbing is that some are refusing to prosecute cases of resisting police. Some are refusing to prosecute various theft cases or drug cases, even where the suspect is involved in distribution. And when they do deign to charge a criminal suspect, they are frequently seeking sentences that are pathetically lenient. So these cities are headed back to the days of revolving door justice. The results will be predictable. More crime; more victims.

A department that frequently touts the power of prosecutorial discretion is angry because prosecutors are exercising discretion. And it's a bit rich for AG Barr to complain about "revolving door justice" when law enforcement agencies all over the nation continue to hire officers fired for misconduct and abuse by other agencies.

The administration's back-the-blue attitude is on full display. Barr's angry speech about the respect he believes officers are owed has trickled down to the lower ranks of federal prosecutors. In the wake of a shootout between a criminal suspect and several Philadelphia police officers, US Attorney William McSwain decided to take his own shot at Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner.

What I witnessed last night was true heroism by the Philadelphia police. But the crisis was precipitated by a stunning disrespect for law enforcement - a disrespect so flagrant and so reckless that the suspect immediately opened fire on every single officer within shooting distance. Only by the grace of God did they survive.

Where does such disrespect come from?

There is a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement in this City that is promoted and championed by District Attorney Larry Krasner - and I am fed up with it.

It started with chants at the DA's victory party - chants of "F*** the police" and "No good cops in a racist system."

We've now endured over a year and a half of the worst kinds of slander against law enforcement - the DA routinely calls police and prosecutors corrupt and racist, even "war criminals" that he compares to Nazis.

This vile rhetoric puts our police in danger. It disgraces the Office of the District Attorney. And it harms the good people in the City of Philadelphia and rewards the wicked.

While McSwain was bitching about a prosecutor he doesn't like, DA Larry Krasner was praising the Philadelphia PD -- which saw six of its officers wounded -- for their handling of the volatile situation.

McSwain also suggested the federal branch would step in to directly control the actions of the Philly DA. His exact words were "We're going to provide some adult supervision." As Adam Steinbaugh points out, that's not how federalism works. Someone must have pointed that out McSwain, who walked back this comment (but none of his press conference remarks) less than two hours later.

Perhaps the federal prosecutor was just being reflexively defensive. The person who allegedly shot all of these cops was a federal snitch who got a break on his most recent prison sentence because of how helpful he was.

McSwain failed to mention, however, that alleged shooter Maurice Hill’s interactions with law enforcement predated Krasner taking office. Nor did McSwain acknowledge that the 36-year-old Hill, who on Saturday was charged by Krasner’s office with attempted murder and multiple counts of aggravated assault related to the incident, has been a federal informant for years, according to documents obtained by The Appeal.

McSwain may have known this news would eventually come out and needed to get out ahead of the narrative before it flipped. Or he may have been blissfully unware and simply decided to engage in the DOJ's "criticizing law enforcement kills cops" politicking. Neither move makes McSwain or police officers look any better or does anything to close the divide between the public and its public servants.

But this is the narrative that's being aggressively pushed with Bill Barr running the DOJ. Anyone who isn't willing to shower cops with respect and adulation is an enemy -- even those basically playing for the same team. There will be no prosecutorial discretion under this administration. There will only be as much cruelty and punishment as it can possibly mete out. Every time something bad happens to a cop, some federal law enforcement rep will be there to claim it was disrespect -- rather than guns and bullets -- that hurt or killed the officer.

Filed Under: adult supervision, doj, federal informant, larry krasner, philadelphia, police shooting, william barr, william mcswain


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Thad (profile), 21 Aug 2019 @ 2:20pm

    A department that frequently touts the power of prosecutorial discretion is angry because prosecutors are exercising discretion.

    Not to mention that Barr was instrumental in getting George HW Bush to pardon the Iran-Contra conspirators.

    When people talk about "law and order", they mean for other people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Aug 2019 @ 3:17pm

    Blame goes anywhere but here

    Dear Mr Barr and McSwain,

    "Frequently, these candidates ambush an incumbent DA in the primary with misleading campaigns and large infusions of money from outside groups."

    So you admit that there is fraud in our election system. What are you doing about that?

    In addition, for all the complaining, Krasner was in fact elected, and while I do not follow Philladelphia politics (at all) I would be very surprised if those that voted for him did not know his character and understand his intent when in office.

    "And when they do deign to charge a criminal suspect, they are frequently seeking sentences that are pathetically lenient. So these cities are headed back to the days of revolving door justice."

    40 some years of the failing and maybe failed 'war on drugs' with significant incarceration being a big part of that effort, what improvement has there been? The whole 'flogging will continue until morale improves' methodology has not shown any positive results.

    I would suggest legalization and control along with rehabilitation and counseling as alternatives, but I don't think we could stomach the rhetoric you would spew in response.

    Sincerely,

    Actual adults

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 21 Aug 2019 @ 4:14pm

      Re: Blame goes anywhere but here

      40 some years of the failing and maybe failed 'war on drugs' with significant incarceration being a big part of that effort, what improvement has there been? The whole 'flogging will continue until morale improves' methodology has not shown any positive results.

      It put a lot of (mostly nonwhite) people in prison. That was its purpose, and that's what people like Barr think is a positive result.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Zgaidin (profile), 21 Aug 2019 @ 7:25pm

        Re: Re: Blame goes anywhere but here

        Even if we discount the failed War on Drugs due to its racial bias from inception, incarceration in general, as practiced in the US, hasn't worked well. Recidivism rates are high for a whole host of reasons - not least of which is how hard it is for ex-cons to get a job, which is usually a requirement of their parole. Prison sentences in the US are, at absolute best, a time out during which the criminal cannot commit crimes against other "law-abiding citizens" because they don't have access to them. More often, they are advanced and continuing education in how to commit crime. Our post-prison system of halfway houses and parole are just as flawed. Statistically, they do a terrible job re-integrating convicts who have served their time back into society at large.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 22 Aug 2019 @ 7:43am

          Re: Re: Re: Blame goes anywhere but here

          Abso-fucking-lutely.

          But authoritarians don't care about any of that. For all their high-minded rhetoric about making the streets safer, it's really just about punishing a certain type of person.

          When someone in the criminal justice system proposes changes that actually will get at the root causes of crime and make us safer, well, this article is about how authoritarians react to that.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Groqker, 22 Aug 2019 @ 7:45am

        Re: Re: Blame goes anywhere but here

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2019 @ 6:52pm

    Truncation Corrected

    "This vile rhetoric puts our police in danger" of being recognized as a clique of cowardly, job-holding, thugs and thieves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2019 @ 6:50am

      Re: Truncation Corrected

      Come now, be realistic. Not all of them are job-holding.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        AnonyOps, 22 Aug 2019 @ 5:42pm

        Re: Re: Truncation Corrected

        I guess Maurice Hill being a federal informant still counts as jobless. First they make the terrorists then they eliminate them. Typical of the type of government that gave us Timothy McVeigh.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2019 @ 7:41pm

    Authoritarian Treatment of Soldiers and Cops

    The truth is that authoritarians don't really like soldiers and cops as individuals, or even as tools. What they love them as are symbols to be wielded for their power. This is reflected by their total lack of care when their policies get them killed needlessly like no-knock warrants, pointless wars, or shoddy equipment from contractors. They don't give a fuck about the individuals - just their unquestioned power. Damaging their unquestioned power is the only thing which can 'kill' soldiers and cops in a way that matters to /the authoritarian/.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2019 @ 8:01pm

    I don't get it, we keep beating them and they don't love us!

    It started with chants at the DA's victory party - chants of "F*** the police" and "No good cops in a racist system."

    Here's a thought: Maybe you should ask yourself why people are chanting those things, because I can guarentee that that 'disrepect' didn't start with the new DA, and if people are that pissed off with the local police odds are good there's a reason for it that's not on the public's side.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 22 Aug 2019 @ 2:59am

      Re: I don't get it, we keep beating them and they don't love us!

      It's sort of an elevated "blame the messenger for the news" thing, more like "blame the dam for the flood".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2019 @ 6:01am

        Re: Re: I don't get it, we keep beating them and they don't love

        Blame the aid workers for the outbreak?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2019 @ 2:04pm

        Re: Re: I don't get it, we keep beating them and they don't love

        I don't like that analogy; a dam can absolutely cause a flood (e.g. what the Old River Control Stucture might do to Morgan City sometime in the near future).

        More like, "blame the hungry for the food shortages."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 21 Aug 2019 @ 8:52pm

    "We're going to provide some adult supervision."

    Okay Mr. McSwain. Just let us know as soon as you hire one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 21 Aug 2019 @ 10:30pm

    Just maybe

    "...who spend their time undercutting the police, letting criminals off the hook, and refusing to enforce the law."

    Or, enforce the law, undercutting crooked police. These people that believe that cops are puritanical scare me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2019 @ 5:28am

      Re: Just maybe

      Oh these people don't beleive that at all.

      They want cops to be a group of street judge, jury and executioner dispensing death at the orders of the government.

      The scary part is the citizens who scream "Please yes! Put your boots on my throat cop sempaaaai!" who are more often than not the idiots that hoist up flags that say "Don't tread on me" and icons of a failed rebellion of the southern states.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dickeyrat, 22 Aug 2019 @ 3:01am

    Barr's modus operandii. This is how things go down in a Fascist dictatorship. Your orders are: GET USED TO IT!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    R,ogs/s, 25 Aug 2019 @ 11:04am

    This vile rhetoric puts our police in danger.

    This vile rhetoric puts our Israelified /zionaziĀ© police in danger.

    there, fixed it, chiefie

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.