Court date set as Philly prosecutors move forward in case against shooter in cop ambush

In stills from a surveillance video

In stills from a surveillance video

Philadelphia prosecutors have filed a thick binder of evidence against a man who authorities say tried to assassinate a city police officer in an ambush attack earlier this year.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has charged Edward Archer with attempted murder and other charges after he allegedly tried to kill Officer Jesse Hartnett as he was patrolling West Philadelphia just before midnight in January.

Archer had a pre-trial court date scheduled for Thursday, when prosecutors handed his defense lawyer substantial evidence in the case, but given the volume of information, the hearing was pushed back three months to give his attorney time to review. 

Police say Archer, of Yeadon in Delaware County, fired 13 times at off Officer Hartnett, who was struck three times in the arm but survived.

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Archer wore a long white robe as he shot at Hartnett. Later, he confessed to the act to police and said he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Federal investigators could not find any link between Archer and the overseas terrorist group.

Prosecutors have charged Archer with 10 crimes including attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault of a law enforcement officer.

Archer was using a weapon reported stolen from a police officer years before. It’s unclear how it winded up in Archer’s hands, but some of the charges stem from his illegal possession of the gun.

Trevan Borum, Archer’s defense attorney, said he doesn’t know whether the federal probe is still open. FBI Director James Comey has said that there is no indication that Archer was part of an organized cell, although Comey said Archer visited Saudi Arabia in 2011 and a year later, he took a trip to Egypt. But the reason for the travel, and what he did in those countries, is not publicly known.

“If they’re still investigating, they haven’t shared that with me. So, I don’t know whether the FBI, and the federal government, is still investigating,” Borum said on Thursday.

Borum would not comment about whether he plan to argue that his client is mentally unfit to stand trial.

Archer’s next court date is in August 25, when a trial date is expected to be set.

Archer is being held without bail in a county prison.

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