PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A disgraced Philadelphia police officer testifying against former drug squad members who question his credibility acknowledged Thursday that marriage problems once led him to attempt suicide.
Jeffrey Walker had denied any prior mental-health treatment when he entered his 2013 plea and agreed to help the FBI investigate brutality and corruption complaints ledged against the elite narcotics unit.
Walker testified for a third day in the ensuing trial of six former colleagues. He has said the undercover officers routinely perjured themselves in court to obtain search warrants or convictions, after stealing bundles of drugs and cash from suspects they stopped or put in jail.
Walker, 46, said a girlfriend found him in his garage in 2002 contemplating suicide as his first marriage dissolved.
“I was at a loss. I had went in the garage, turned the car on. I had a bottle of tequila and a gun in my hand,” Walker testified, closing his eyes before speaking forcefully about the experience. “She came in the garage, and actually stopped me.”
He said he sought help at a hospital the next day, but did not pursue the recommended therapy, and therefore does not feel he lied to the judge when he denied any history of mental-health treatment.
A few years later, again dealing with family problems, he began drinking heavily, even on the job. He would fall asleep during surveillances and once lost his service weapon. He grew apart from colleagues, especially after lead defendant Thomas Liciardello suspected he had squawked to Internal Affairs.
Walker never cooperated, though, until he was caught planting drugs and stealing money in a 2013 FBI sting. He said he has since talked to the FBI - in more than 40 interviews- about his own crimes as well as those allegedly committed by the defendants and other officers not on trial.
“In my world, all corrupt cops know each other,” Walker said.
Most of the victims who have testified so far acknowledge being fairly large drug wholesalers, often dealing in marijuana. About 160 city convictions have been overturned amid the police corruption probe, and scores of civil lawsuits have been filed accusing Walker and the defendants of perjury, making false arrests, beating and threatening suspects, and theft.
“I deserve a life sentence. I’m hoping not to get one,” Walker said of his cooperation.
The defense plans to call squad supervisors who were on hand for some of the dubious raids but were never charged in the case. They have also shown through Walker’s testimony that the amount of drugs and money allegedly stolen is at best an estimate - Walker said he typically eye-balled a wad of cash and casually split it with officers on the scene. They rarely if ever counted it, he said.
For instance, he said they split about $30,000 after one raid, while last year’s indictment put the take at $80,000.
The trial is expected to last through late May.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.