PHILADELPHIA (December 29, 2022) — District Attorney Larry Krasner announced today the launch of a new unit within the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO) that focuses on holding individuals who commit carjackings appropriately accountable, as carjackings continue to pose increased public safety concerns in Philadelphia and in other major cities across the United States. As of September, there have been 1,000 carjackings year-to-date, according to Philadelphia Police Department data. “Other than homicide and shooting victims, [carjacking is] the third most prevalent [crime] happening country-wide,” said Philadelphia Police Inspector Charles Layton.The DAO year-to-date has charged 304 of the 305 carjacking arrests made by the Philadelphia Police Department. Of those 305 arrests, 159 involved adult suspects and 146 were of juveniles, according to a DAO DATA Lab analysis of PPD data.
The DAO’s Carjacking Enforcement Unit (CEU), created thanks to a generous $1.5 million dollar budget increase for the DAO over six months through the support of Philadelphia City Council and Mayor Jim Kenney, will be led by Assistant District Attorney Helen Park, a veteran prosecutor who served the Commonwealth in the office’s Homicide and Non-Fatal Shooting Unit as well as the Gun Violence Task Force. ADA Park is joined by nine prosecutors from the DAO’s Juvenile, Homicide and Non-Fatal Shooting, and Major Trials units. DA Krasner and the DAO recognize that carjacking suspects frequently involve juveniles. Assistant District Attorney Yasmine Finnegan, who will serve as the CEU’s Assistant Supervisor, brings extensive experience in the youth justice system and will be handling carjacking cases involving minors.The CEU will also draw on additional resources including forensic technology, criminal intelligence, and personnel from the DAO’s Gun Violence Task Force, led by Assistant District Attorney William Fritze, and the DAO’s Homicide and Non-Fatal Shooting Unit, led by Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, in order to pursue justice on behalf of victims and communities impacted by this type of violent crime. Data analysis conducted by the DAO’s DATA Lab will properly measure the CEU’s outcomes and efficacy and hold this new effort accountable.
“This new unit will enable my office to pursue strong cases built on solid evidence in order to hold accountable those who are threatening the lives and security of Philadelphia residents. This initiative will help us more vigorously prosecute dangerous individuals such as 28-year-old Jonathan Akubu, who is right now off of the streets and behind bars with no bail awaiting his day in court,” said DA Krasner. “I’m extremely grateful to Mayor Kenney and our partners in City Council who worked hard to secure the funding for the CEU and who are prioritizing this very serious public safety issue, one that is inexorably linked to our gun violence crisis. I also commend Mayor Kenney for his commitment to prioritizing solutions to gun violence in his final term.” After a sweeping investigation involving local, state, and federal authorities, Jonathan Akubu was arrested earlier this year for his role in multiple gunpoint car robberies that resulted in the deaths of two people and the non-fatal shooting of two other victims in the course of the carjackings. He was charged in February with two counts of Murder as well as Aggravated Assault and multiple illegal firearm possession charges. Law enforcement believes he may be responsible for as many as four dozen other point-of-gun car robberies. The investigation into the illicit activities of Akubu and his associates is ongoing. No trial date has been scheduled.
“I’m honored by the opportunity to lead this unit. I see this as an opportunity to serve a city that I love dearly and care tremendously about and have been fighting for for many years,” said ADA Helen Park. “Carjacking by its very nature puts everybody’s sense of safety and security in danger. So I very much welcome this chance to collaborate with all of our law enforcement and community partners to help restore a sense of safety for the people of this city.”“My colleagues and I in City Council have allocated over $300 million dollars towards addressing crime prevention and gun violence reduction,” said Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr., Chairman of City Council’s Public Safety Committee (4th District). “I’m proud of the work City Council has done in this area, and I commend the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for focusing the resources we’ve given them in order to address the scourge of gun violence and other violent crime, such as carjackings, that are plaguing this city. City Council looks forward to continued collaboration with DA Krasner, his staff, and all of our public safety stakeholders in 2023 as we work together to improve the lives of our city’s residents.”
CONTACT:[email protected]Dustin Slaughter, 215-686-8713,
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million residents of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives, and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of approximately 40,000 criminal cases annually. Learn more about the DAO by visiting PhillyDA.org.