Two of the three people fired from the state Board of Probation and Parole for failing to supervise a man accused of later killing a police officer are speaking out for the first time.
Michelle Rivera and Rosa Hernandez were two of the three probation and parole employees who were fired on Friday. Board Chairman Michael Potteiger said that the employees violated internal rules and procedures in the case of Rafael Jones.
Jones was on probation in August when he and another man allegedly shot and killed off-duty Philadelphia police Officer Moses Walker Jr. during an early morning street robbery as Walker walked near 20th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue in North Philadelphia.
Walker's relatives say Jones had recently failed a probation office drug test but wasn't taken into custody as a judge had ordered. They also say Jones was supposed to be on house arrest with electronic monitoring.
A source told NBC10 that Jones' probation officer Juan Rodriguez tried to have Jones arrested but the request was rejected by supervisors. Supervisors Rodriguez, Hernandez as well as Rivera were all fired.
Some other parole board employees say they don't believe Rodriguez should have been fired since he suggested Jones be arrested but had his request rejected.
The family filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 13 blaming the parole board for Walker's death.
On Monday, NBC10 spoke with Hernandez and Rivera. They told us they were fired unfairly and claimed they're scapegoats for the department of probation and parole. They also said news accounts regarding their connection to the case have been inaccurate. They wouldn't elaborate beyond that however.
"Without seeing the findings of the investigation it's hard to say whether or not these were the people who should've been held responsible or if they're scapegoats," said Pennsylvania State Representative Brendan Boyle.
Boyle says he still doesn't know exactly why Jones was on the street instead of behind bars on August 18. The head of probations and parole says his investigation into the matter is confidential.
"There were days that assailants were permitted to be re-arrested," said Michael Barrett, the Walker family attorney. "And there were days when they were not permitted to be re-arrested. We intend to investigate and explore how that worked."
Barrett has named Rivera, Hernandez, Rodriguez as well Michael Potteiger, the head of probations and parole, in the family lawsuit. Both he and Boyle are asking if the report isn't public because there's something to hide.
"My big fear is that the investigation shows this is the kind of thing that happens all the time and it's just not being addressed and they don't want to make that public," said Boyle.
The head of probations and parole refused to comment any further on Monday. NBC10 has filed a formal request to see his internal investigation.