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Gunman who pledged allegiance to Islamic State after shooting Philly cop sentenced

A frame grab of the attempted killing of officer Jesse Hartnett by suspect Edward Archer during a press conference at Police Headquarters on Jan. 8, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pa. Archer was sentenced Monday to nearly 50 years in prison for the shooting. (David Swanson/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

A Delaware County man was sentenced Monday to nearly 50 years in prison for shooting a Philadelphia police officer in an Islamic State-inspired ambush attack in 2016.

Edward Archer did not visibly react as Common Pleas Judge Leon W. Tucker imposed the sentence of 48 1/2 to 97 years — the maximum allowed. As he had throughout his trial earlier this year, Archer refused to identify himself and mostly declined to respond to the judge or to his lawyers, saying he was loyal only to Allah.

The man he shot, Officer Jesse Hartnett, testified briefly at the hearing, saying that Archer — whom he did not know before the assault — fired more than a dozen shots at him purely because of the car he drove and the uniform he wore. He said Archer displayed “cowardice” and deserved the stiffest penalty allowed by law.

“He was on a mission,” Hartnett said. “A mission to kill.”

Assistant District Attorney Jan McDermott also read several statements from Hartnett’s relatives, describing the officer’s physical limitations in the aftermath of the crime — including the need to perform most tasks with only one arm — and the emotional impact on his family.

“We are extremely blessed that he is alive,” Hartnett’s father, Bob, said in a statement read by McDermott.

Archer, a Yeadon resident, fired at least a dozen shots at Hartnett while the officer sat alone in his patrol car in West Philadelphia on Jan. 7, 2016. Hartnett was struck in the arm but managed to open his door with his feet and return fire as Archer ran away.

After being apprehended, Archer told investigators he had acted out of allegiance to the Islamic State. He has refused to participate in his own defense, declining to talk to his lawyers or to submit to mental health evaluations.

Investigators have found no link between Archer and any organized terror organization. His lawyer, Trevan Borum, said Monday that he believes Archer to be mentally ill — possibly schizophrenic and certainly suffering from delusions.

Archer, in a brief outburst in court, denied his lawyer’s diagnosis, saying he was not schizophrenic and that “I don’t have no mental defects.” He refused to say anything else.

As he was led out of the courtroom, his mother, who was in the gallery, said, “Love you, Ed,” while his sister cried. They declined to speak with reporters afterward.

Borum said he was unsure whether Archer was remorseful. As for Hartnett, he said the officer “is probably the bravest man alive.”

Monday’s proceeding likely ends a chapter of city history that attracted international attention and was even mentioned by presidential candidates during the 2016 campaign. It occurred just days into the new tenures of Mayor Kenney and Commissioner Richard Ross, thrusting a spotlight on the city administration.

During a two-week trial in January, prosecutors presented evidence including surveillance video of the attack, ballistics and DNA tests, and Archer’s videotaped interrogation during which he said he had acted out of religious inspiration. Jurors deliberated for less than three hours before convicting him of counts including attempted murder, assault against a law enforcement officer, and weapons charges.

Ross on Monday said Hartnett’s actions after the shooting were “nothing short of miraculous.” He also said that the Police Department has been installing ballistics shields in the side windows of cars to help prevent similar ambushes.

Hartnett, who has undergone at least 11 surgeries since the shooting and had a unique set of metal braces inserted into his elbow, said he was pleased that the judge agreed to impose a long sentence to reflect what he described as an indiscriminate and selfish assault.

Since that day, Hartnett has gotten married, had a daughter, and harbored hopes of returning to active duty. He said Monday that he’s unsure if he’ll be able to fulfill that goal due to the constraints on his arm. Still, he said he “would never change anything” about his life.

“I absolutely love this job,” Hartnett said. “If I could take it all back, I would still be a Philadelphia Police officer. I wouldn’t change a thing.”


© 2018 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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