Thursday, April 16, 2015
Police Officer Jeffrey Walker had parked his car in his garage and left the engine running. He'd brought along a gun and a bottle of tequila.
Despondent over his failed marriage, Walker hadn't figured out yet whether he wanted to end it with carbon monoxide or a gunshot. In the meantime, he had his tequila.
Asked if he was going to commit suicide that day back in 2002, the 46-year-old Walker replied, "I was going down that road."
Then, Walker said, his girlfriend showed up and talked him into going to the emergency room at Lankenau Hopsital. On medical records displayed in the courtroom, Walker's "chief complaint" was listed as "suicidal, depressed." His diagnosis: depression.
Walker was taken by ambulance to the psychiatric ward at Bryn Mawr Hospital, the medical records showed. It would have been just another chapter in the life of the government's star witness at the rogue cops trial, a star witness one defense lawyer has aptly described as a train wreck. Except that Walker had made a big deal out of telling the jury that when he became a government witness he finally stopped lying.
The hitch was, the day he signed his cooperation agreement with the government, the judge had asked Walker if he'd ever been hospitalized or treated for mental illness. Walker's answer was no. To defense lawyer Jeffrey Miller, this was proof that Walker was still lying.
"I walked away the treatment they suggested" at Bryn Mawr, Walker explained on the witness stand. "I wasn't treated."
So that's why Walker said no when the judge asked if he'd ever been hospitalized or treated for mental illness.
Five defense lawyers spent most of the day quizzing Walker. The subjects of discussion included all the incriminating details Walker gave the government in 45 sessions with the FBI about his escapades over the years with six fellow narcotics officers. All six are charged in a RICO conspiracy to beat and rob drug dealers and cover their tracks with falsified police records.
The day started with Jack McMahon asking Walker about a February 2011 drug bust in a drug dealer's apartment where Walker bolted from the scene because he supposedly had to go to the bathroom.
McMahon seemed to be operating under the theory that Walker was lying again and up to no good when he split. There is also the unsolved mystery of how some $7,000 disappeared from the drug dealer's apartment and whether Walker, an admitted liar and thief, had anything to do with it.
McMahon asked Walker why he didn't just use a bathroom in the drug dealer's apartment.
"I'm not going in someone else's bathroom if I had to sit down," Walker explained. "My stomach was hurting. I had to go home and get some medicine. I didn't have any money."
So Walker said he drove to the 15th District, used the bathroom. And then he drove to his house where he chugged some Milk of Magnesia.
His supervisor, St. Joe McCloskey, Walker said, called him up and asked, "Where you at?"
To McMahon, Walker's story made no sense and was more proof that Walker's fellow officers and supervisors couldn't depend on him.
Another courtroom exhibit display today showed that between July 2008 and July 2011, Walker had made 489 calls to "Ivy the drug dealer."
Expect to hear more about that as the case continues.
On the witness stand today for his second day of cross-examination, Walker was much more assertive. "I'm not done yet," he barked at McMahon several times when the defense lawyer tried to cut him off.
Walker also gave many long answers that prompted a couple of defense attorneys to object.
"I don't want to interrupt your speech," McMahon said at one point during one rambling answer.
Other courtroom exhibits today included more text messages between Walker and Officer Thomas Liciardello, the former cop that the feds say was the ringleader of the rogue narcs.
"Sir Rat A Lot" and "Sir Snitch A Lot" were some of the more creative names that Liciardello called Walker in his texts.
"Get your eyes checked and stop falling asleep on surveillance," Liciardello also texted Walker.
"I see all and know all remember," Walker responded to Liciardello. "You be little me every day."
On the witness stand, Walker tried to tell McMahon that he wasn't into money any more.
"Peace of mind right now is more important to me than anything," Walker said.
Jeffrey Miller, representing Liciardello, asked Walker if the object of his cooperation agreement with the government was to get a light sentence.
"I'm hoping for mercy from the judge," Walker responded. He defined mercy as the judge "giving me something I don't deserve."
"I deserve a life sentence," Walker testified. "I'm hoping I do not get one."
Miller asked about Walker's venting to one of his superior officers, Lt. Robert Otto, when Otto was trying to mitigate the feud between Walker and Liciardello.
"I hated him [Liciardello] for what he was doing to me," Walker said. "I told him [Otto] I hated Tommy."
Did you ever tell the lieutenant that some day you would show Liciardello just how much you hated him, Miller asked.
"No, I didn't," Walker said.
Miller went over the details of the day Walker was busted in an FBI sting for planting an ounce of cocaine on another drug dealer. After the drug dealer was arrested, Walker went over to the drug dealer's house and with undercover cameras rolling, walked out of the place with $15,000 in cash and five pounds of marijuana.
"I orchestrated the plan," Walker said. That's why he enlisted the aid of two uniformed officers to pull over the drug dealer.
"In order to break policy you have to know policy," Walker said. He's been in jail ever since, for the last two years.
Drug dealers carry guns, Miller said. Did you ever consider that in orchestrating your plan to plant drugs on that dealer, so you could rob him, that you might have exposed two of your fellow officers to bodily injury?
"That thought didn't cross my mind," Walker said. When asked about planting drugs on people, Walker said, "I've done it so many times" that he couldn't give Miller a number.
The defense lawyer got the witness to agree that he'd planted drugs on people at least 20 times.
And then you stood up in court under oath and lied to a judge and a jury, and sent these innocent people off to jail, Miller said.
Yep, Walker agreed, that's what I did.
"How can the jury tell when you're lying and when you're telling the truth," Miller asked.
The prosecutor objected and the judge sustained the objection.
Instead of seeking inner peace in his jail cell, Miller suggested, Walker might be having delusions of grandeur. The defense lawyer asked Walker if it was true that he was planning to write a book about his exploits.
"It crossed my mind," Walker said. He's talked about it with his family and the FBI.
When you meet with the FBI 45 times, you can't talk about the case all the time.
The Jeffrey Walker story would be a cautionary tale.
The book would reveal how "I've destroyed my life," Walker said. "I've poisoned my life. I see that. I see all the damage I've done."
When he was done after three days of testimony, Walker turned his back and bowed his head so that one of the marshals could cuff him. Then the prosecution's star witness was gone, on his way back to jail.