New Adventures of the Compassionate Curmudgeon

In which I tend to rant. A lot. But compassionately...

Further Thoughts

Here are some further thoughts I've had about The Trial and its Aftermath.

On receiving Mr. Driscoll’s email, I initially jumped to the conclusion that this vindicated my original opinion about Keith's innocence, but on further reflection and some additional correspondence I realized that just because those officers planted evidence and perjured themselves in some cases, it didn't necessarily mean they did that in all cases.

Thus, while their testimony can no longer be believed, it's certainly possible that they testified truthfully in Keith's case. The DA’s office can't possibly know when they were lying and when they were not, so it is probably overturning the convictions of actual guilty parties as well as innocent ones.

Jeffrey Walker is the former undercover police officer who pleaded guilty to corruption and testified against the other officers.

This certainly moves the needle in the direction of Not Guilty. And given that Keith's conviction was one of the earliest to be overturned, I think that points to the DA thinking his case was one of the more problematic ones. It’s even likely that Jeffrey Walker, the officer who pleaded guilty and helped the prosecution, offered Keith’s case as one of the frame jobs. (It’s also possible that there might be other reasons for the DA acting quickly; Keith had already served nearly his minimum sentence.)

As I talk to people about the case, one of the most frequent questions I get is why did those officers target Keith? Assuming that they did target Keith, I can think of three possible reasons. Perhaps they intended to burglarize his house as they did some of their other victims. Maybe they were trying to settle a score of some sort, possibly for one of their confidential informants (CIs).

Or perhaps the simplest reason of all: they just wanted to get credit for another arrest. As has often been pointed out, the rise of data-driven law enforcement has led to an increase in police corruption as officers try to make as many arrests as possible to make their numbers look good. In that case, Keith, with his previous drug record, made an excellent target for them.

So perhaps officer Walker really did observe his CI in a drug transaction with Keith on the evening before the arrest, but the CI might have been the seller and Keith the buyer. Perhaps that marijuana really was Keith's. Or maybe that small quantity of cocaine. Maybe they only planted the other drugs and the guns. I can't imagine they planted the BB gun; that was probably already in the house.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, Mayor Michael Nutter, and Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey are being sued for defamation.

All that is just speculation on my part. I don't know and will probably never know for certain.

Meanwhile, this is still an ongoing story. Just today it was reported that Jeffrey Walker is about to be sentenced, and the other officers, the ones who were acquitted and reinstated on the force, are suing the DA, the mayor, and the police commissioner for defamation. I think that's called chutzpah.

Another question that I frequently get as I talk about this case (and really, for the past couple weeks I've talked about little else) is how after all these years did the attorney Mr. Driscoll come across my blogpost from seven years ago. As it happens I do have an answer to that, and  it’s pretty much what I suspected. His mother Googled his name.

Update July 30, 2015: Jeffrey Walker has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Update August 8, 2015: Another 158 convictions involving those dirty cops have been overturned, bringing the total (so far) to 560 with only 40% of the cases reviewed.