A Philadelphia police officer who was ambushed by a gunman in January took the stand on Thursday in a preliminary hearing ahead of an attempted murder trial, detailing for the first time the episode that nearly claimed his life.
The self-confessed gunman, Edward Archer of Yeadon, is now being held without bail on several felony counts, but he does not face any terror charges
Officer Jesse Hartnett was shot several times as he covered his head in his patrol car in West Philadelphia near 60th and Spruce Streets on Jan. 7. After the barrage of fire, Hartnett told a packed courtroom, he kicked open his cruiser door and fire back at Archer.
He said he doesn’t know what may have motivated Archer to attack him.
Philadelphia prosecutor Jan McDermott said the fact that 33-year-old Hartnett survived the close-range shooting is a miracle.
“That he was able to exit the patrol vehicle. You heard him say that he had to open the door with his legs,” she said, describing his condition after sustaining the gunfire. “His arm is literally dangling from his body.”
Prosecutors said Hartnett, who has already undergone seven surgeries on his arm, is awaiting an eighth procedure.
Archer told police he was acting in the name of Islam. But federal investigators said they have no reason to believe he has ties to the Islamic State, something echoed by Archer’s attorney after the preliminary hearing.
“Nobody’s told me that that’s the case, either. In fact, I think from the public statements from the director of the FBI, it would appear that it’s the exact opposite,” said defense attorney Trevan Borum.
John McNesby, who heads the city’s police union, said that the violent incident underscores how dangerous daily policing can be.
“It’s what we go through every day on the streets. And it shows exactly what happens out there sometimes when the cameras aren’t there,” McNesby said. “Had a video not been up, and we not seen that, you would not have believed what he went through. Honestly.”
Authorities said the weapon Archer used, a 9 mm Glock pistol, was stolen from a police officer’s home in 2013, but they have not determined how Archer obtained the weapon.
Archer’s next court date in scheduled for March 31.