Philadelphia Dem DA slammed over suspected officer killer’s punishment

Philadelphia Dem DA slammed over suspected officer killer’s punishment

The family of slain Temple University police officer Chris Fitzgerald on Wednesday called for Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s recall after he rejected use of the death penalty for the suspect in Fitzgerald’s murder.

Fitzgerald, a 31-year-old husband and father of five, had been trying to stop teenagers dressed in black from committing a carjacking on a Saturday night along the edge of Temple’s campus when then-18-year-old Miles Pfeffer shot him six times in the head — all captured on Fitzgerald’s body-worn camera.

They have been pushing for Pfeffer to be sentenced to death ever since, but they found out Tuesday night that Krasner would be declining to do so.

“As a uniformed police officer in the city of Philadelphia … volunteering his time off duty away from his family to give back, for someone like that, who made us so proud as a family, to be struck down in the streets of Philadelphia and for the district attorney to decide that this isn’t worthy of … a judge or jury to consider the death penalty as a means of punishment for this offense is reprehensible,” Joel Fitzgerald, Christopher’s father, a five-time police chief and Philadelphia native, told Fox News Digital.

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Due to Joel Fitzgerald’s professional background, his family “knows and understands the legal system.” 

“Imagine what happens every day to families across Philadelphia,” he said.

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Pfeffer was charged in February 2023 with murder, murder of a law enforcement officer, robbery, carjacking, possession of an instrument of crime, and other related charges, the district attorney’s office said at the time.

The now-19-year-old allegedly robbed Fitzgerald of his gun after shooting him, and authorities say the suspect fled the scene and went on to commit a carjacking after killing the officer. U.S. Marshals and Bucks County police arrested Pfeffer the next day in his hometown of Buckingham Township.

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A civil lawsuit filed by the Fitzgerald family against Pfeffer’s parents and his mother’s boyfriend alleges that Pfeffer’s mother picked the suspect up in Philadelphia after the shooting and drove him home.

Fitzgerald’s family fears Krasner will try to make a plea deal with the defendant for third-degree murder instead of first-degree and avoid a jury trial because he has his “own agenda,” Joel said.

“What we’re very conscious of now is [Krasner’s] ineffectiveness and his inability to allow citizens to make the decision. He’s taken that decision out of their hands. And if it can happen to us, it can happen to you,” Joel said, calling the DA “problematic.”

Dustin Slaughter, spokesperson for Krasner’s office, told Fox News Digital that Krasner has been “consistent with his oath to seek justice and uphold the law” and “will not seek the death penalty in the case of Miles Pfeffer, who murdered Police Officer Fitzgerald.”

“This decision was made after extensive input over many hours from the family of Officer Fitzgerald, and from experts. The members of the DAO committee that considers possible death penalty matters include attorneys with a cumulative total of hundreds of years of homicide and other criminal trial and appeal experience,” Slaughter said, referring to a committee Krasner created to consider potential death penalty cases.

Slaughter said the committee “reviewed all aspects of the case itself and all obtainable information on the defendant prior to making their recommendations to DA Krasner, who made the final determination.”

“The input of the family is deeply appreciated and was carefully considered by the committee and DA Krasner prior to his decision. The DAO looks forward to continuing to support the family’s needs and to vigorously prosecuting this terrible murder,” Slaughter said.

Marissa Fitzgerald, Christopher’s widow, told Fox News Digital that “it is important for all of the city of Philadelphia to know how Larry [Krasner] handles cases that are so heinous like this.”

“He’s basically sending a message that it’s OK for you to brutally execute not only a police officer but a family man – a husband, a father, a son, a brother – and you’ll get a slap on the wrist. And it’s stating that he doesn’t care what we want as victims,” she said.

Marissa added that her family is already living a “nightmare,” and for Krasner to drag them “through the mud like this is disgusting, it’s distasteful, and the citizens of Philadelphia need to know what kind of DA they have on their hands.”

The Fitzgerald family is calling for residents to recall Krasner due to his handling of Christopher’s case.

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The Temple University Police Association called Krasner a “disgrace” in a statement posted to Facebook on Wednesday.

“The disgrace of a District Attorney Larry Krasner, will NOT seek the death penalty in the murder case of our hero, Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald,” the association wrote. “Absolutely devastating news for the Fitzgerald family and law enforcement officers throughout Philadelphia.”

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Krasner has been vocal about his opposition to the death penalty. Just days before the DA’s office filed charges against Pfeffer, Krasner issued a statement in support of Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro’s opposition to the death penalty.

“Given Governor Shapiro’s previous and consistent support for upholding the death penalty as Attorney General, today’s announcement that Shapiro now opposes the death penalty is a very welcome and encouraging evolution in his position,” Krasner said in a Feb. 16, 2023, statement.

In 2019, Krasner’s office found that 72% of death penalty cases in Philadelphia between 1978 and 2017 were “ultimately overturned,” his office said in a press release.

“The death penalty in Pennsylvania overwhelmingly applies to Black and brown defendants, mentally impaired defendants, and poor defendants who cannot afford legal counsel and are assigned court-appointed lawyers. It does not do what the law requires – apply the ultimate penalty to the worst offenders who commit the worst homicides. Rather, it applies the ultimate penalty to the poorest and most impaired defendants,” the DA said at the time.

Gianno Caldwell, Fox News analyst and founder of the Caldwell Institute for Public Safety, on which Joel Fitzgerald serves as a board member, released a Wednesday statement saying the Fitzgerald family is calling “on Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry to empower newly appointed Special Prosecutor Michael Untermeyer to adopt the case.”

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“Police unions, including the Philadelphia FOP Lodge 5, Temple University Police Association, and the PA State FOP, have also joined in condemning the fact that Krasner will not seek the death penalty in this case; to not give judge or jury even the option for considering death in this heinous crime is asinine,” Caldwell said.

The Fox analyst, whose younger brother was fatally shot in Chicago in June 2022, noted that “murders have increased every year Krasner has been in office. (A staggering 57% increase in murders compared to pre-pandemic numbers.)”

Carjackings, armed robberies and burglaries have also increased since 2020, Caldwell said.

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