Republican members of the Pennsylvania House announced Wednesday morning that they are filing articles of impeachment against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.
The announcement followed the release of a report earlier in the week from a state House committee that detailed rises in crime and increases in withdrawn and dismissed offenses that Republicans have blamed on Krasner’s policies.
“We will do the right thing, where we do not believe the district attorney has,” Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff said at a news conference at the Pennsylvania State Capitol building.
The report cited a number of statistics showing dramatic rises in various crimes in recent years, such as a 93% rise in fatal shootings from 2015 to 2020 and a record number of carjackings this year that recently reached 1,000.
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“[M]ost troubling to the Select Committee is what happens after arrests are made — the DAO’s prosecution, or lack thereof,” the report said, noting that so far this year 65% of violent offenses (homicides, non-fatal shootings, rapes, robberies, and assaults) were either withdrawn by Krasner’s office or dismissed by the court. In contrast, that number was 48% in 2016.
In addition to the rising percentage of offenses that were dismissed or withdrawn, the report cited a decrease in guilty dispositions – in 2020, just 66% of cases resulted in guilty dispositions, down from 88% in 2015.
Declinations of arrests also increased significantly when Krasner took office. The report said that according to a study by the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center that examined declinations of narcotics, retail theft, and prostitution arrests from 2016 to 2018, there was a rise in the percentage of declinations of arrest in all cases “especially in 2018,” Krasner’s first year.
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Rep. Martina White, who represents Philadelphia, is the prime sponsor of the articles of impeachment. In remarks at the news conference, White gave examples of recent crimes that have plagued the city, including when five teens were shot at a football scrimmage, a WaWa store that was “ransacked by nearly a hundred teenagers,” and the shooting of three Philadelphia SWAT officers.
“These are the consequences of District Attorney Larry Krasner’s failure in office,” White said. “He has been derelict in his obligation to the people of Philadelphia and this Commonwealth.”
White said that she “anticipate[s] and [is] asking for bipartisan support” in the impeachment effort.
“The legislature has a duty to act when a public official refuses to perform their duties and puts the public in danger,” she said. “The city of Philadelphia cannot afford to wait any longer.”
Krasner, who has been anticipating possible impeachment as Republican lawmakers carried out their investigation, has slammed the effort as political and meritless. He has accused the committee of targeting him, as they are only focusing on his county and not others in Pennsylvania that he said have experienced sharper rises in crime.
“Indeed, homicides and violent crimes have increased all over the United States, in jurisdictions that have elected both traditional prosecutors and reform prosecutors,” he wrote in a letter to the committee.
After the articles of impeachment are filed, they will go to the House Judiciary Committee. If the committee approves them, they will go to the full House for a vote, which requires a simple majority. If a majority supports impeachment, it will go to the Pennsylvania Senate for a trial to determine whether to remove Krasner from office.