59 Narcotics Cases Dropped in Police Corruption Case

Defender plans to file 1,000 more appeals of tainted cases.

We already knew Jeffrey Walker was a bad Philadelphia cop: He pleaded to robbery and weapons charges earlier this year, and his cooperation was considered key to the mass indictment of his fellow narcotics officers over the summer. But we’re still getting a sense of the scale of the problem.

The Inquirer reports a judge on Friday dismissed 59 narcotics convictions in which Walker was a key witness. The convictions had been obtained between 2004 and 2013.

“Actually, this is the worst police corruption since the 39th District,” said Bradley S. Bridge of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, referring to the mass dismissals of about 300 cases in the late 1990s. Those cases involved six 39th District officers who were convicted of planting drugs and framing suspects.

The current police scandal – in which one former officer has pleaded guilty in federal court to corruption charges and six others are awaiting trial – involves more case dismissals than ever before in Philadelphia: 340 cases had been dismissed by the beginning of the year, and counting Friday’s tally, 76 have been tossed this year.

More than 100 lawsuits have already been filed by former convicts. City Hall — and taxpayers — are expected to take a major financial hit from settling the cases.

And the worst may still be in the future. A public defender said Friday she plans to file 1,000 more appeals of cases involving Walker and the narcotics unit. [Inquirer]