Investigation leads to firings in cop killing case

FOP Lodge 5 pres­id­ent John McNesby (right) test­i­fies at the hear­ing on pa­role pro­ced­ures in the wake of the murder of po­lice of­ficer Moses Walk­er by a pa­rolee. The hear­ing was held by Rep­res­ent­at­ive Brendan Boyle at MAST charter school. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

State Rep. Brendan Boyle is happy that the Pennsylvania Board of Pro­ba­tion and Pa­role last Fri­day ter­min­ated three em­ploy­ees who were in charge of su­per­vising the killer of Po­lice Of­ficer Moses Walk­er Jr.

At the same time, Boyle (D-170th dist.) wants the board to make its in­tern­al in­vest­ig­a­tion pub­lic.

“I am heartened that the pa­role board’s in­tern­al in­vest­ig­a­tion has at long last con­cluded and they have taken some ac­tion against those who ap­par­ently failed in this mat­ter,” he said. “However, it is hard to draw full con­clu­sions without see­ing the in­vest­ig­a­tion’s full find­ings.”

Boyle chaired a House Demo­crat­ic Policy Com­mit­tee pub­lic hear­ing on Oct. 23 at MaST Com­munity Charter School.

Among those testi­fy­ing were Mi­chael C. Pot­teiger, chair­man of the pro­ba­tion and pa­role board, and John McNesby, pres­id­ent of Fraternal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge 5.

“If people had done their jobs,” McNesby test­i­fied, “we would not be here on this day.”

Walk­er’s moth­er, Wayne, and broth­er, An­thony, and their at­tor­ney, Mi­chael F. Bar­rett, were in at­tend­ance.

Walk­er, 40, was shot to death shortly be­fore 6 a.m. on Aug. 18 as he walked to a bus stop near 20th Street and Cecil B. Moore Av­en­ue. A 19-year de­part­ment vet­er­an and church dea­con, he had just fin­ished a shift in the 22nd Po­lice Dis­trict. A video cap­tured the killing.

The board did not ar­range for murder sus­pect Ra­fael Jones to get the re­quired elec­tron­ic mon­it­or­ing. Nor did it send him back to pris­on after he tested pos­it­ive for drugs.

Jones, 23, has a long crim­in­al re­cord. A Com­mon Pleas Court judge ordered the board to put him on elec­tron­ic mon­it­or­ing upon his re­lease from pris­on on a gun charge on Aug. 8, adding that he should be sent back to jail if he failed a weekly drug test.

The mon­it­or­ing was nev­er set up. Jones tested pos­it­ive for marijuana on Aug. 10 but was not re­arres­ted. Eight days later, he al­legedly shot Walk­er dur­ing a botched rob­bery.

Gov. Tom Corbett ordered an in­vest­ig­a­tion.

The re­port was re­leased on Fri­day, and Pot­teiger said in a state­ment that, “We are all saddened by the sense­less death of Of­ficer Walk­er.” He ordered the fir­ing of three un­named people, widely be­lieved to be the pa­role agent and two of his su­per­visors.

“These em­ploy­ees were ter­min­ated due to vi­ol­a­tions of Board pro­ced­ures, the Board’s Code of Con­duct, and short­com­ings in the man­ner in which Jones was su­per­vised,” he said.

Bar­rett de­scribed the Walk­er fam­ily’s re­ac­tion to the ter­min­a­tions as “too little, too late.”

Pot­teiger in­dic­ated that the board is pur­su­ing the op­tion of us­ing GPS tech­no­logy, in­stead of an elec­tron­ic mon­it­or­ing sys­tem, to give pa­role agents a bet­ter tool for pa­rolee man­age­ment.

Boyle ex­plained that his hear­ing had a two-fold pur­pose: to find out what went wrong in the Jones case and to re­form the sys­tem so fu­ture tra­gedies do not take place.

“If we are to achieve the lat­ter, then I re­it­er­ate my call for the pa­role board to make their find­ings pub­lic so that we can work to­geth­er to pre­vent fu­ture fail­ures in the pa­role sys­tem,” he said. “I can think of no great­er trib­ute to Of­ficer Walk­er than to fix a broken sys­tem that cost him his life. Let’s make this his last­ing leg­acy.”

Between the time of the hear­ing and the re­lease of the re­port, Walk­er’s fam­ily filed a fed­er­al law­suit against the board. Pot­teiger, the pa­role of­ficer and his su­per­visors were named in the suit.

Join­ing Boyle at the hear­ing were Reps. John Sabat­ina Jr., Kev­in Boyle, Ed Neilson, Maria Donatucci, Ron Wa­ters, Dom Costa, Scott Conk­lin, Pat Har­kins and Joe Pre­ston.

Boyle is still await­ing de­tails of why a brace­let was not placed on Jones’ ankle and why he was not jailed after the pos­it­ive drug test.

“Those two crit­ic­al ques­tions need to be answered,” he said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

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