Philadelphia’s District Attorney says he is taking aim at the “stop snitching” culture that keeps witnesses from testifying against criminals. He’s even willing to prosecute a shooting victim to make his point.
District Attorney Seth Williams is holding up 22-year-old James Ellis as an example. Ellis told a grand jury he didn’t know who had shot him seven times last summer. Williams said he does know and so charged Ellis with perjury.
“Mr Ellis is a convicted drug dealer and as a result of him traveling around the city with drugs and guns in his car, he puts innocent children at risk,” said Williams. “Like on Friday a child like two year old was shot got caught in the crossfire, that’s unacceptable to me.”
Assistant District Attorney Brian Lentz said once Ellis clammed up before the grand jury prosecutors got to work.
“The lies that he told before the grand jury were provable because of the investigation from going onto his facebook account was able to determine a completely different version of events than he gave to the grand jury and other facts to show that he lied obstructed the investigation and did everything he could to make sure that we couldn’t solve this shooting,” said Lentz.
Williams said his office must keep witnesses from being intimidated into silence.
“We’re going to use every opportunity, every legal ability that we have to bring these criminals to justice, so if they have open child support cases if they are wanted by the Philadelphia parking authority, we’re going to use grand juries,” said Williams.
Ellis has not been arrested, but Williams says when he is, he will also face weapons charges. In January, Williams announced he was doubling his witness protection budget by spending another $200,000.