The investigation into the nearly fatal shooting of alleged drug dealer James Ellis is a classic Philadelphia “no-snitching” thug story — a young Black male with an arrest record knows who tried to kill him but rather than cooperate with police, he repeatedly lied and hindered the shooter’s arrest.
Now, Ellis is on the run and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office has issued a warrant for his arrest. Ellis was charged with perjury and related offenses, in addition to the drug and gun charges, after a Grand Jury concluded that he lied over and over during the investigation into the 2011 shooting that nearly ended his life.
“The charges against James Ellis sends an extremely important message to the ‘no snitching’ culture that currently exists in Philadelphia,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “This is a man who was shot multiple times and miraculously lived. Instead of making the most of his second chance at life, Ellis decided to deceive the police and my office on numerous occasions.”
The shooting happened on June 27, 2011, at around 7:22 p.m. Investigators believe that Ellis was shot somewhere in the vicinity of 1000 Glenwood Street by a still unidentified person. Ellis was operating a 2000 Buick LeSabre that he crashed into several parked cars. Responding officers from the 25th Police District found Ellis outside the Buick on the ground in a pool of blood. They also found a plastic bag full of 15 packets of crack cocaine in the door handle and a loaded Taurus 9mm handgun on the seat that was also covered in his blood.
Police officer Booker Messer, who was one of the first officers on the scene, testified that the only words Ellis said to him were simply, “help me.”
“What we’re trying to do is use the Grand Jury to go after the city’s most violent criminals,” Williams said. “We have meetings with the Police Department called Gun-Stat where we identify those areas in Philadelphia that show the highest degrees of problems. There are two Police Districts that have the most gun violence; the 22nd and part of the 25th Districts. We have now replicated that across all six divisions around the city and have identified those defendants that cause most of the gun violence. As a result of that, we began an investigation into an organization known as the ‘Platter Boys.’ James Ellis was identified as one of those individuals who brings a lot of gun violence into the city.”
The Platter Boys operated in the East Division and many of its members are now in custody.
According to the Grand Jury investigation, Ellis never gave clear answers to the actual location of where he was shot or why. He never provided any information as to the identity of the person who almost killed him but investigators determined that Ellis’ shooting was related to several ongoing conflicts in the area.
Detective John Bartol, told the Grand Jury that in the fall of 2010, Tony “TJ” Hale was killed over a dispute with Ellis. That year, there was a triple homicide on the 2800 block of North Eighth Street where the intended target was the person shot Ellis — three innocent bystanders were killed. Bartol testified that, from speaking with his sources, he believed he knew the identity of the person who shot Ellis (suspect’s name is withheld by the Tribune).
Investigators managed to obtain warrants and accessed Ellis’ Facebook page. When they read the postings, there were numerous references indicating that Ellis knew someone was gunning for him. There were other posting after the shooting that again, he knew who it was that tried to kill him.
“Wish a n----as would try 2 run up on me like I ain’t strapped xanix and double G’d.” This was posted five days before the shooting.
“Listen cuzn idk if u my man or not you running around thw da n---a who hit then you knew what was going on da whole time like if you was really my homie u would’ve seen what da situation was n holla at us.” This item was posted three moths after the shooting.
Brian Lentz, Chief of the Attorney General’s Gun Violence Task Force said Ellis is a convicted criminal and that criminals shooting at other criminals is at the heart of the gun violence in Philadelphia.
“One of the points here is that oftentimes, criminals shooting at criminals results in the injury or death of innocent bystanders,” Lentz said. “Ellis was given the opportunity to assist in the investigation and prosecution of the person who shot him. He chose instead to lie on multiple occasions to the Grand Jury and the charges against him arise from that investigation. The lies he told were provable; the information on his Facebook page gave a completely different version of events that he gave to the Grand Jury. He lied, obstructed the investigation and did everything he could to make sure we couldn’t solve the shooting.”