Philly DA: Shooting Suspect 'Should Have Never Been on the Streets' - NBC Bay Area
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Philly DA: Shooting Suspect 'Should Have Never Been on the Streets'

Maurice Hill, accused of shooting six Philadelphia police officers during an hourslong standoff, has a lengthy criminal record dating back to his teenage years

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    Man Accused of Shooting 6 Philly Police Officers Has Long Criminal History

    We're learning more about the man accused of shooting six Philadelphia police officers during an hourslong standoff in the city's Nicetown-Tioga section. NBC10's Mitch Blacher has the latest details on the suspect.

    (Published Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019)

    The man suspected of shooting six Philadelphia police officers during an hourslong standoff should not have been on the streets and "obviously was a tremendous danger to the public and to law enforcement," the city's district attorney said Thursday.

    Maurice Hill, 36, surrendered to police shortly after midnight Thursday after the gunfight inside a rowhome in the Nicetown-Tioga section of North Philadelphia. The residential neighborhood was locked down for more than seven hours.

    Hill has not been charged, but he will face "a lot of charges" that could ensure he will "never exit jail," District Attorney Larry Krasner said. "Obvious" charges that will be filed include attempted murder and aggravated assault, Krasner said.

    Philadelphia Police say Maurice Hill (inset) surrendered after a seven-hour standoff where six officers were shot. See Larger
    Photo credit: Philadelphia Police Department

    "It is pretty obvious that there should be charges of attempted murder. It is pretty obvious there should be charges of aggravated assault in the first degree. It's pretty obvious that there are some serious firearm charges including the fact that he was a felon before he was handling this weapon," he said.

    The standoff began around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and ended shortly after midnight Thursday. Two officers and three civilians were safely evacuated before the arrest, having been trapped for hours in the same home as the shooter. Another officer was also injured in a car crash while responding to the standoff.

    Hill is suspected of firing more than 100 rounds during the ordeal, Krasner said. He appeared to be armed with an AR-15-style weapon and a handgun, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said.

    Despite the heavy gunfire, everyone involved made it out alive.

    "People were saying really ugly things on social media and I was afraid that this was going to turn even more deadly, quite frankly, and end with a real stain on our city," Hill's lawyer, Shaka Johnson, said.

    Johnson joined police as they negotiated with Hill long into the night.

    "I wanted to see this end peacefully, but quite frankly, enough had been done where I think folks would understand if it didn't end peacefully. So, I wanted to impress that upon him and engage him into coming out of his own volition," Johnson said.

    Hill's criminal record dates back almost two decades and includes convictions on illegal gun possession. He was first arrested as an 18-year-old in 2001 for illegally possessing a gun with an altered serial number, court records show. He was found guilty on five counts related to that arrest.

    In 2002 he was arrested yet again and eventually pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and criminal conspiracy.

    Hill would continue to be arrested over the years, with his crimes escalating in severity. In 2008, he was convicted of resisting arrest, criminal trespass and fleeing from police. Three years later, he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and most recently was found guilty of perjury, in 2013.

    Krasner confirmed that Hill was convicted of federal weapons crimes in 2010 and was under the supervision of federal authorities up to around 2016. Federal court records indicate he was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to four years and seven months in prison, plus three years of supervised release.

    However, Hill was not convicted of dozens of other charges, including kidnapping, terroristic threats, illegally possessing guns, possession of controlled substances and simple assault. Other charges, like receiving stolen property and more gun and drug charges, were dismissed through the years.

    Court records also indicate that Hill repeatedly violated his probation. In fact, he had a probation violation hearing scheduled for next Tuesday.

    U.S. Attorney William McSwain directly blamed Krasner and his reform-focused policies for the shooting. In a statement, he said the gunfire erupted because, "There is a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement in this City that is promoted and championed by District Attorney Larry Krasner - and I am fed up with it."

    However, Hill's crimes preceded Krasner's time in office. Krasner added that he and his office had not had any connection with, or prosecution of, Hill during his time as district attorney.

    "As best I can tell, there has been no new criminal matter in the city and county of Philadelphia in 2018-2019 and I believe not even something originating in 2017, which would be the year before we were in office," Krasner said.

    Krasner, who has tussled with Donald Trump-appointed McSwain in the past, defended his administration's approach to crime in the city. The approach consists of "disinterest in prosecuting minor offenses" like marijuana possession in favor of "going after more serious offenses," Krasner said.

    He also refused to directly blame his predecessors for Hill being out on the street before the shooting. However, he did acknowledge that, "The criminal justice system, imperfect as it is, did not stop this terrible incident."

    Johnson described his client as "different" than the man with the long rap sheet and accusation that he shot police officers. In the last three years, Hill had enrolled in school and was taking computer classes, Johnson said.

    Hill is also the father of a teenage boy and a 2-day-old infant girl, he added. During negotiations with police, Hill phoned Johnson and asked for him to arrange for his partner to go to the scene.

    "He called at 8:30 [p.m.] and [said], 'Unc, it's me,' and I instantly knew what that meant. The tone of his voice - I just knew. I didn't have to say, 'What do you mean?'" Johnson said.

    Commissioner Ross was even at the scene during negotiations, a first-time move he called "unorthodox."

    "I have to admit, I did not think that this guy was going to come out alive after several conversations with him and hearing a bunch of information throughout the afternoon," Ross said. Hill made "a bunch of unreasonable requests" during negotiations, prolonging the standoff, the commissioner added.

    The requests included being able to see his daughter and partner, Johnson said. He added that the patience shown by Ross, his officers, hostage negotiators and district attorney Krasner prevented a further tragedy, though Krasner said all credit should go to police and federal authorities who assisted during the standoff.

    "It is in fact a miracle. It is in fact, as far as I'm concerned, proof that there is a God," Johnson said as he described the fact that everyone made it out of the standoff alive.