Accused cop-shooter ruled competent, scheduled for trial in January

A frame grab of the attempted killing of officer Jesse Hartnett, allegedly by suspect Edward Archer. Footage was presented during a press conference at Police Headquarters Friday January 8, 2016.

A Delaware County man accused of shooting Philadelphia Police Officer Jesse Hartnett during an ISIS-inspired ambush attack in West Philadelphia in 2016 was ruled competent Monday to stand trial, paving the way for his case to go before a jury next month.

Edward Archer’s attorney, Trevan Borum, had sought to convince Common Pleas Judge Leon W. Tucker that Archer was not mentally fit to participate in his defense, citing odd behavior witnessed by Archer’s family and his refusal to speak with Borum or to submit to mental health evaluations.

But Tucker, siding with Assistant District Attorneys Allison Borgatti and Jan McDermott, ruled that Archer, 32, was aware of the charges against him and simply chose to avoid cooperating in the case.

Archer, of Yeadon, said nothing during the two-hour proceeding, refusing even to give his name for the record.

His mother, Valerie Holliday — who previously had said her son had been “hearing voices” — testified Monday that he often mumbled or spoke to himself and had a volatile, unpredictable temper. But that apparently was not enough to convince Tucker that Archer should not stand trial.

Archer refused three times to submit to a mental health evaluation, according to evidence presented Monday, leaving open the question of whether he suffers from a mental health condition.

Archer is accused of ambushing and shooting Hartnett on Jan. 7, 2016, while Hartnett was alone in his patrol car. Hartnett was hit several times in an arm but managed to return fire after he was attacked.

Investigators said Archer confessed to committing the shooting “in the name of Islam.”

Archer, facing charges including attempted murder and aggravated assault, remained in custody Monday. His trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 22, 2018.