‘I am fed up with it’: Philadelphia U.S. attorney torches local D.A. after police standoff

William McSwain

William McSwain, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said his office had been picking up the slack for District Attorney Larry Krasner. | Jacqueline Larma/AP Photo

Philadelphia’s top federal prosecutor on Thursday laid into the city’s district attorney, rebuking Larry Krasner for promoting what he labeled a “stunning disrespect for law enforcement” and blaming him in part for an hourslong standoff between police and an active shooter the day before.

William McSwain, whom President Donald Trump appointed as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, lambasted Krasner in a statement and news conference, saying he was “fed up” with a “new culture of disrespect for law enforcement” in Philadelphia that he said was being “championed” by Krasner, a former civil rights lawyer.

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The standoff began around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday when officers arrived at a house in northern Philadelphia to serve a narcotics warrant and were met with gunfire. Six officers were wounded in the gunfire and two others, who were barricaded inside the house with the gunman, escaped unharmed, police said.

The standoff ended shortly after midnight after police negotiated the suspect’s surrender, and no fatalities have been reported. All six officers shot by the gunman have been released from the hospital, police said.

McSwain also accused Krasner of going easy on violent criminals, blaming what he said was a lack of “robust enforcement” and diversionary programs, along with the downgrading of charges and ignoring “entire sections of the criminal code.” McSwain contended that his office had been picking up the slack for Krasner, saying that his office had prosecuted 70 percent more violent crime cases than it did last year in response to Krasner’s “lawlessness.”

In an extraordinary broadside, McSwain said he wasn’t confident that Krasner’s office would bring serious-enough charges against the suspect, telling reporters in a news conference that his own office would provide “some adult supervision” as the investigation into the incident progressed.

McSwain cited anti-police chants at Krasner’s Election Night party in 2017, contending that kind of “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.”

McSwain noted that the suspect, identified as Maurice Hill, had a “long rap sheet,” including convictions for illegal possession of firearms. While he acknowledged that Krasner might not have personally had the opportunity to prosecute Hill since assuming office, McSwain faulted the D.A. for fostering a “larger culture of disrespect for law enforcement that is endangering the public.”

“This is larger than just Maurice Hill,” he told reporters. “I believe he is putting police at risk and putting the public at risk.”

Krasner’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about McSwain’s remarks. But in an earlier statement to HuffPost, he said: “The U.S Attorney is not a political elected office. I’m surprised that William McSwain would seek to detract from the great collaborative work of law enforcement last night ― for which bipartisan leaders in City Hall just minutes ago had nothing but praise, and rightly so ― for his own political agenda and personal gain.”

McSwain’s criticisms of Krasner are not fresh concerns. Earlier this year the prosecutor went on Fox News, where he assailed Krasner as soft on crime, blasting him over support from Democratic megadonor George Soros. Soros, McSwain argued at the time, was taking “an illegitimate, anti-democratic short cut” and “trying to purchase D.A. elections” to institute criminal justice reform.

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