Suit: Parole board's stat-padding led to cop's death

Posted: November 14, 2012

THE FAMILY OF Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker Jr., who was killed in a botched robbery in August, has sued the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, its chairman and three parole agents, claiming they missed multiple chances before Walker's murder to jail the confessed killer for violating parole.

The board violated Walker's civil rights by "permitting a systemic breakdown" that placed Walker in the path of parole violator and serial armed mugger Rafael Jones early Aug. 18, attorney Michael F. Barrett contends in the federal wrongful-death lawsuit. Jones, 23, and alleged accomplice Chancier McFarland, 19, tried to rob Walker as the veteran officer walked to a North Philly bus stop after his overnight shift, but Jones instead shot him dead when the officer drew his weapon, police say.

Jones was on the street, free to kill, Barrett charged, because the board unofficially discourages parole scofflaws' arrests to advance the ruse that recidivism rates are low. Barrett announced the lawsuit during a news conference in his Center City office Tuesday.

The board's first grave mistake was releasing Jones, after he served four years in state prison for a 2007 gun case, to a home with no phone, Barrett said. As a condition of his probation, Jones was ordered to be under electronic monitoring - a system that requires a home landline.

The board knew he was violating his probation because he got arrested last February after allegedly robbing a man at gunpoint in Germantown, according to the lawsuit. Charges in that case were dropped when the victim failed to appear in court to testify.

As a result, "Jones, whom the courts considered a high-risk parolee with a 10-year history of criminal conduct, was allowed to freely roam the streets," Barrett said.

During a subsequent probation hearing, a judge chastised Jones and ordered that he be jailed if he flunked weekly drug tests or violated probation again, Barrett said.

Yet when Jones failed a drug test about a week before Walker's murder, two parole supervisors, Rosa Hernandez and Michelle Rivera, denied parole agent Juan Rodriguez's recommendation that Jones be arrested, according to the lawsuit.

Those three agents and board chairman Michael C. Potteiger are named as defendants in the suit. Board spokesman Leo Dunn said Tuesday that he couldn't comment on the suit, because the board's attorneys hadn't seen it yet.

Walker's tearful mother, Wayne Lipscomb, and sister Kenya Boulware sat silently by Barrett's side throughout the news conference. They declined to comment, but Barrett read a statement by Lipscomb in which she mourned her son's loss and thanked the family's supporters.

"Moses was every mother's dream come true: a good man, a kind, caring and gentle man," the statement said. "We honor Moses when we asked our lawyers to do everything possible to make sure that what happened to him never happens to another human being."

" @DanaDiFilippo

Blog: phillyconfidential.com

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