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March 10, 2016

Wounded officer testifies about January shooting: 'My blood is pooling on my lap'

During a preliminary hearing Thursday for the man charged with shooting him, Officer Jesse Harnett provided vivid details of the Jan. 7 night he was wounded in a violent, unprovoked shooting in West Philadelphia.

The alleged shooter, Edward Archer, 31, of Yeadon, Delaware County, was held for trial. 

Testifying on Thursday morning, Hartnett said was on patrol that evening when he saw Archer, dressed in a long white t-shirt – which the officer referred to as "Muslim garb" – with a hoodie pulled tight over his face and a scarf, or hospital mask, covering his mouth and nose. 

"Like, you could barely make him out, but you could see his eyes," testified Hartnett, 33, a five-year veteran of the city's 18th district.

As he drove through the intersection of 60th and Spruce streets about 11:40 p.m., Hartnett said he saw Archer lift his shirt and produce a black handgun. At that point, Hartnett said he stopped the car.

And, he testified, Archer started shooting. 

NoneSource/Philadelphia Police

A still photo taken from surveillance camera shows Edward Archer, 30, of Yeadon, firing at Philadelphia Police car driven by officer Jesse Hartnett.

When Archer lifted the gun, Hartnett said he bent at the waist, ducking into the car, to avoid gunfire. 

"I heard shots hitting the door panel of the vehicle," said Hartnett. "I could tell they were getting higher, because I could hear glass breaking." 

Hartnett testified that he bent and covered his head with his left arm – the same arm still in a brace as he testified Thursday – and he felt broken glass fall onto him.

Then he felt bullets tear into his left elbow, he said. 

At that point - as seen in images shared from a nearby surveillance camera – Archer reached into the driver's side window, continuing to shoot. 

"As soon as I took the gunshots, the male is in my car, briefly, for a moment," said Hartnett, adding that Archer then pulled back and began to run away. The officer had been shot three times. 

Hartnett said he quickly evaluated his injury, then began to give chase. 

"After he leaves the vehicle, I sit up and assess myself," Hartnett testified. "My blood is pooling on my lap at this point." 

Hartnett told Judge Marsha Neifield that he then kicked open the driver's side door of the vehicle and gave chase. The officer and suspect exchanged fire, with Archer firing back over his left shoulder as he ran. Then, Hartnett said, he saw Archer drop between two parked cars after being hit by fire. Archer was shot three times as well, in the buttocks.

With Archer on the ground about 30 feet away, Hartnett said he then returned to his patrol cruiser to get a tourniquet for his wounded arm. 

"I knew I was greatly injured," he said, testifying that he was hospitalized for 15 days and has had seven surgeries on his arm.

In fact, he said, the injuries to his arm were so severe, that when he arrived at Penn Presbyterian Hospital that night, he had no pulse in his left arm. Hartnett testified that doctors transplanted a vein from his leg into his arm to restore blood flow. 

Also, Hartnett said, he had to get a titanium plate put in his arm because his humorous "snapped off" and, perhaps needless to say, he had to have a blood transfusion after losing a lot of blood. 

"I lost half of my blood from this," said the officer.

During Hartnett's testimony, the tall, bearded Archer showed no reaction, sitting still in a tan long sleeve shirt and dark colored pants. He sported a large bandit – about the size of a baseball – bandage on the left side of his bald head. 

After the hearing, Archer's attorney Trevan Borum, said "I don't know how he got that injury." 

Upon cross-examination, Hartnett told Borum that Archer said nothing before or during the incident and the two men, to Hartnett's knowledge, had never met prior to the night of the shooting. 

Officer Julius Ceasar, an 18-year veteran of the 18th police district, who responded to the shooting and helped to apprehend Archer, testified that he, too, never heard Archer make any remarks before he was taken in for questioning. Ceasar said he arrived in time to see muzzle flash from Archer's weapon as he fired at Hartnett while attempting to flee. 

When he apprehended Archer, Ceasar said that Archer pulled the long white t-shirt over his head, then balled it up around the handgun he was carrying, before he laid on the ground to surrender to police. 

Officers found the handgun - a police-issued Glock .9 mm that was reported stolen in September 2013 - in the rolled up t-shirt after having fired every round from the empty clip that was still in the weapon. 

After the hearing, Archer's attorney said that he has heard no evidence that his client has any terrorist ties. 

After his arrest, police said, Archer claimed he committed the shooting in the name of Islam

"I have no evidence of that and no one has told me any evidence of that either," said Borum. 

The prosecuting attorneys, Allison Borgatti and Jan McDermott, said that they too had heard no new information connecting Archer to any radical Islamic group, though federal agencies are still investigating. 

During the preliminary hearing, the prosecutors also added charges of simple assault and possession of a weapon to Archer's existing charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm without a license, reckless endangerment and related offenses. 

"He's the true definition of a hero," said Borgatti of Hartnett. "I can't imagine anybody doing what he did. He's very, very brave." 

"It's amazing that he's alive," agreed McDermott. 

Also, John McNesby, president of the city's police union, said Hartnett was lucky to be alive after being ambushed on that evening in January. 

"If we had not seen that video, it would have been hard to believe," said McNesby. "He's very lucky to be alive." 

Archer will be held for trial. His next court appearance will be for his formal arraignment, which is expected to take place on March 31.