Slain Philly Officer Moses Walker Jr. remembered at service

The flag-draped casket of Officer Moses Walker Jr. leaves Deliverance Evangelistic Church in North Philadelphia.
The flag-draped casket of Officer Moses Walker Jr. leaves Deliverance Evangelistic Church in North Philadelphia. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 29, 2012

Family and fellow police officers bid farewell Monday to Moses Walker Jr. in a funeral service that mixed a roof-raising celebration of his life with painfully familiar pleas to end the violence on Philadelphia's streets.

Walker - gunned down Aug. 18 while walking home from his "last out" shift at North Philadelphia's 22d District - was praised as a man of intense faith and optimism, someone who would answer an "I love you" with "I love you more."

William Walker, one of his five brothers, said the family had been heartened since the shooting by an overwhelming number of stories relayed about his impact on others.

"All of you know that if Moses was standing here right now he'd say something like, 'Today is a great day,' " William Walker said, imitating his brother's enthusiasm. " 'Today is a celebration!' "

Mayor Nutter - as he often has done in the wake of the city's more shocking crimes - struck the day's most exasperated tone, telling the huge gathering at Deliverance Evangelistic Church that he was "angry, very angry."

"I'm sick of the ignorance . . . of the death and destruction," he said. "I've had enough."

Two men - one with a criminal history stretching back to age 12 - have been charged with shooting Walker in an apparent robbery attempt.

Rafael Jones, 23, was charged Friday with Walker's murder. A second suspect, 19-year-old Chancier McFarland, was arrested Sunday in Alabama, where he apparently had fled. McFarland has not yet been charged in Walker's death, but is being held as a suspect in a string of violent robberies and pistol-whippings.

"I read the Good Book. The book tells me, 'Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord,' " Nutter said. "But while those two are in custody and here on this Earth, their butts are mine."

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said he was often asked to explain senseless crimes.

"I don't have an answer for that," he said. "What does make sense to me is men and women like Moses Walker. . . . At times when it seems like [the violence] is never going to end, they make a difference every single day."

Walker, 40, was a "turnkey," responsible for the lockup at the 22d District - one of the city's toughest - during "last out," the overnight shift.

"Believe it or not, not everybody in our custody is happy to be in our custody," Ramsey said. "It takes a great deal of skill and patience to be a turnkey, and Moses had that."

Ramsey said two young men who recently had been locked up at the 22d District paid their respects to Walker at a vigil the family held on Cecil B. Moore Avenue, where Walker was found dead.

"Why?" Ramsey asked. "Because he respected them."

Walker, a 19-year veteran of the police force, had been planning to retire once he reached 20 years.

"Unfortunately, he won't make that retirement, but what I'll do is retire his badge," Ramsey said. "Badge No. 2553 will never be worn by another member of this police department."

Walker was buried in Fernwood Cemetery in Lansdowne following the service.

This was the second time the Walker family has had to endure this type of tragedy. Another brother, Montague, was killed in 2001.

Their mother, Wayne, joined the organization Mothers in Charge, which aids the families of homicide victims, after her first son's death.

Ramsey praised her for turning "grief . . . into resolve."

William Walker also talked of his family's struggles.

"We're still standing right here, right now, 12 years later," he said. "I've come to realize time doesn't stop for anyone."

Moses Walker, a Benjamin Franklin High School graduate, became an ordained deacon at the Unity Temple Worship Center in 1995 and "didn't mind letting people know how much he loved his church," according to the funeral service placard.

"He was the most passionate person in service," the mini-biography said. "He tried joining the Praise Team, even though it was evident that singing was not his calling, but that didn't stop him."

Monday's funeral came after a horse-drawn carriage delivered Walker's flag-draped coffin to the church Sunday, in a slow procession of officers on Lehigh Avenue.

That flag-draped coffin rested Monday below the pulpit in the cavernous church, next to flower arrangements proclaiming Walker "Beloved Son, Beloved Brother, Beloved Uncle."

Nutter added another description - great public servant.

"We love you," he said. "We'll never forget you."


Contact Troy Graham at 215-854-2730 or tgraham@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @troyjgraham.

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