NBC10.com - Lu Ann Cahn
Three fired state probation officers are trying to get their jobs back. The state says they were responsible for allowing a probation violator to go free just days before he allegedly killed a Philadelphia police officer. And for the first time, NBC10's Lu Ann Cahn was able to talk to the officers about their role in the case.
Several months since the death of Officer Moses Walker Jr., the three state probation officers accused of allowing Walker's killer to go free are fighting to get their jobs back.
Former probation and parole employees Jose Rodriguez, Michelle Rivera and Rosa Hernandez were fired last year. 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, 2012, 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 Jose Rodriguez tried to have Jones arrested but the request was rejected by supervisors. Rodriguez and the other two 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.
All three former officers attended a hearing on Wednesday in an attempt to get their jobs back. During the hearing, Rodriguez testified that he did his best to put Jones back behind bars before Walker was murdered. Rodriguez says he asked for a warrant to rearrest Jones after he failed the drug test. Hernandez however, testified Rodriguez never did this. Hernandez also admitted during the hearing however that she received a text from Rodriguez when Jones walked back into the probation office on August 15 for an appointment.
"Jackson (another probation officer) told me Raphael Jones just checked in," texted Rodriguez last August.
"Next hot urine we will lock him up," replied Hernandez.
Jones was never locked up however. Days after Hernandez received the text, Walker was shot and killed on his way home from work. State probation and parole employees then scrambled to help police get Jones back in custody and under arrest.
Rivera claims she knew nothing about a special order from a judge to put Jones back in jail after one failed drug test.
"A positive urine for marijuana is not something that we lock offenders up for," she said.
The state says its investigation showed that all officers involved were at fault. A final decision regarding whether they'll get their jobs back has not yet been made. Walker's family filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 13 blaming the parole board for his death. Meanwhile, Jones is currently awaiting trial.