As reported by Fox29, Joel Fitzgerald Sgt. Fitzgerald's father, said Pfeffer's crime "meets every threshold of the death penalty and I will tell you that we’re waiting, with bated breath, to hear from the District Attorney to see what they decide to do."
The outlet recounted that on February 18, 2023, investigators described Fitzgerald, known as "Fitz" according to CBS News, as patrolling by himself two blocks west of Temple's main campus near 18th Avenue when he began to pursue three masked individuals in connection to a carjacking a block away.
Fitzgerald approached them in foot pursuit when two of the suspects hid and he continued to chase a third, who was reportedly identified as Pfeffer.
The officer ordered the suspect to the ground, per NBC Philadelphia, but instead, a struggle began before Pfeffer reportedly pulled a handgun and shot Fitzgerald. He then stood over the officer and continued to shoot him several times in the face and head, killing him.
The assailant then rifled through Fitzgerald's pockets and attempted to steal his weapon, only to be foiled by his retention holster.
Officer Fitzgerald, who was posthumously promoted to Sergeant, left behind a wife and five children. Joel added, "What we'd like to see is this person to go through the pain that our son went through, to go through the suffering that the family is going through to go through... each and every moment of excruciating anger that we've felt over the last year and that our grandchildren will feel for the rest of their lives."
Pfeffer has been charged with murder, criminal homicide of a law enforcement officer, disarming an officer, robbery, theft, evading arrest, and weapons crimes in relation to the death of Sgt. Fitzgerald. The family has expressed frustration with the several delays that have plagued the prosecution of Pfeffer.
Joel specifically called out Philadelphia's "progressive" DA Larry Krasner telling Fox & Friends, "People like Larry Krasner, they all have something in common. They have the same funding source we all know about, and they put their philosophies in the place of the law.and their blanket soft-on-crime policies are causing neighborhoods in our country to become latchkey."
Responding to the criticism, a spokesman for the DA told CBS News Philadelphia, "Out of deference to the courts, which make sentencing decisions, we have no comment at this time," but claimed, "we do not have blanket policies when it comes to sentencing recommendations."
Pauline Fitzgerald, the mother of the fallen officer, told Fox29, "We understand it’s a long process, nobody understands that more than my husband and I, but we couldn’t even get the process started until today, it’s ridiculous. We’re frustrated that it’s taken this long, they need some type of closure, we all need a little bit of closure."
Pfeffer waived his right to a pre-trial hearing on January 23, his next hearing is scheduled for February 13 at 11:00 a.m., almost a year after the murder took place.