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Trial begins in 2012 shooting death of off-duty Philly cop

Prosecutors say Rafael Jones killed Officer Moses Walker Jr. in a robbery. Co-defendant Chancier McFarland pleaded guilty.

Rafael Jones (left) was one of two men charged in the 2012 robbery and slaying of Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker (right).
Rafael Jones (left) was one of two men charged in the 2012 robbery and slaying of Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker (right).Read more

POLICE OFFICER Ryan Saunders, the first to respond to the North Philly street where off-duty Officer Moses Walker Jr. was shot two years ago, testified yesterday that he didn't immediately recognize the bleeding victim lying facedown, "curled in a fetal position."

His first thought was to put the man, suffering from gunshot wounds, into the back of his patrol car and rush him to Temple University Hospital. He was able to get the victim onto the backseat of his patrol car with the help of another man on the scene.

At that point, "I asked him who shot him," Saunders testified, saying he then realized the victim was Walker, his fellow officer in the 22nd District, headquartered at 17th Street and Montgomery Avenue, and the cop who had shown him the ropes after Saunders joined the Philly police.

"I just kind of shook him, smacked him in the face," Saunders testified. "I said, 'Moses, Moses, who shot you?' "

"He said, 'I, I, I.' His eyes rolled back in the back of his head and he stopped breathing," said Saunders, who began to get emotional and wiped away tears.

Saunders was testifying at the start of the Common Pleas nonjury trial of Rafael Jones, 25, the North Philly man accused of shooting Walker to death shortly before 6 a.m. Aug. 18, 2012, during a robbery on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 20th Street.

Jones' co-defendant, Chancier McFarland, 21, pleaded guilty in June to third-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy in Walker's slaying. Under terms of the negotiated plea, McFarland will serve 20 to 40 years in prison and has agreed to testify against Jones.

Saunders said that as he was about to drive Walker, 40, to Temple, Sgt. Charles Cook from the 22nd District drove up to the scene, as did an ambulance. Cook advised him to transfer Walker to the ambulance.

Saunders said medics took Walker to Hahnemann University Hospital, where Walker was pronounced dead at 6:23 a.m.

Officer Eyleen Archie, who at the time worked in the 22nd District, testified yesterday that Walker had been working as the "turnkey," patrolling cell rooms and checking on prisoners, from about 10 p.m. the night before and had finished work about 5:30 a.m.

As Walker left to go home, he was dressed in black-and-white shorts and was unraveling earphones, she said. Archie said she was in her vehicle on her way home when she stopped at 17th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue and asked Walker, who was on foot: " 'Moses, you want a ride?' He said, 'No, thank you, sweetie. I'm OK,' " she recalled under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo showed Judge Jeffrey Minehart video footage from various buildings in the neighborhood that morning. The videos showed "two persons of interest" walking on Oxford Street near 20th at 5:43 a.m. and then going north on 19th Street, said Detective James Dunlap, a police video expert in the homicide unit.

Other videos showed Walker walking westbound on Cecil B. Moore Avenue. About 5:45 a.m., he was walking on the north side from 19th to 20th streets when he looked behind him a couple of times. Then, in the video, two men are seen on the south side of Cecil B. Moore, dressed similarly to the "persons of interest" captured in the previous videos.

There was no video of the next block, between 20th and 21st streets, where the shooting allegedly occurred by a grassy lot.

Under questioning by defense attorney Michael Coard, Dunlap agreed that the videos did not show either of the two people of interest with a gun.

Jones' trial continues today. Prosecutors yesterday agreed to withdraw the death penalty after Jones agreed to a bench trial rather than proceed with a jury trial.