This week, six former officers from the Philadelphia Police Department’s undercover drug unit are being tried on a 26-count federal racketeering indictment. The star witness is former unit member Jeffrey Walker, who pled guilty in 2013 and is now testifying for the prosecution. Walker’s plea led to as many as 160 drug convictions being overturned. In addition, numerous civil rights lawsuits have been filed by people mistreated by the drug unit.
Walker’s testimony was stark. He admitted to committing thousands of crimes during his 24-year tenure with the Philly PD — including beating suspects during interrogations, stealing drug money, planting evidence and lying to judges and juries. He also admitted that his lies and false evidence led to false convictions.
According to Walker,the drug unit intentionally targeted white, college-aged kids as suspected drug dealers because they were intimidated easily. Once they’d identified a target, the officers would simply barge in and grab whatever they wanted; only later applying for a search warrant. They were so thuggish, apparently, that more than a dozen victims have testified that they assumed they were being robbed by a drug gang, not police officers.
One of the more shocking offenses charged in the indictment involved an alleged cocaine dealer. Walker and other officers are said to have stopped the dealer outside the Philadelphia city limits and seized some four kilos of cocaine. On the police property receipt, however, they only listed one kilo and said it had been seized within the city limits. The officers allegedly turned the other three kilos over to another dealer who resold it on their behalf. Walker’s cut of the proceeds was $17,000.
Before the indictment, the drug unit apparently had an impressive reputation. It had routinely been responsible for large seizures of drugs and cash and high-profile arrests. Walker said the crew’s solidarity and willingness to keep secrets kept Internal Affairs at bay for years.
“We were getting the drugs, the guns, the money (off the street),” Walker explained. “We were also stealing.” He also admitted he hadn’t thought of the suspected drug dealers he targeted as human beings.
Under the U.S. Constitution, it’s not good enough to get drugs and money off the street. The police have to achieve that without breaking the law or violating the civil rights of those they don’t see as human.
Source: Delaware County Daily Times, “Rogue ex-Philly drug cop admits ‘thousands’ of crimes, lies,” Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press, April 15, 2015