PHILADELPHIA — At least 80 tainted drug convictions linked to a corrupt Philadelphia police officer have been thrown out, while more remain under review.
A judge dismissed the latest 17 cases Friday where the evidence largely came from disgraced former Officer Jeffrey Walker. The defendants involved had all pleaded guilty.
Dozens of other Walker convictions had previously been overturned, and hundreds of open cases dismissed.
Walker pleaded guilty in federal court this week to stealing $15,000 from a drug dealer in a plot that also involved planting drugs in his car.
After the plea, his lawyer said Walker, a longtime officer, is cooperating in a broader probe of the drug trafficking unit.
The district attorney’s office agreed to the convictions overturned to date, working hand-in-hand with the public defender’s office, a spokeswoman said.
“It’s the fair thing to do, based on Officer Walker’s indictment and guilty plea,” spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson said.
However, prosecutors are challenging about eight other Walker cases under review, believing that other evidence supports the convictions, she said.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey recently confirmed to The Philadelphia Inquirer that four officers in the narcotics trafficking unit are off the street amid the federal corruption probe. If they are charged, hundreds of other drug cases could be called into question.
Public defender Bradley Bridge said his clients have experienced both “elation and indignation.” Some have filed civil suits seeking damages.
“The people who are in prison that I’ve gotten out are elated to get out. People on probation are elated to have the probation terminated,” he said. “At the same token, they’re outraged by the time they have had to spend on probation or parole, based on the false testimony of a police officer.”
Walker, a 24-year veteran of the force and longtime narcotics officer, was arrested as part of an FBI sting operation.
He faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced May 21 for attempted robbery and a weapons charge.