The sergeant who oversaw a Philadelphia narcotics unit whose members have been accused of robbing drug dealers, beating suspects and planting evidence said his officers have been falsely accused.
Whether a jury believes him might hinge on his ability to show he was paying attention to the officers.
Sgt. Joe McCloskey was the sole witness to take the stand Wednesday in a police corruption trial during which witnesses said officers on the squad dangled a suspect over a balcony, kidnapped an informant and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars.
McCloskey said all of it was bunk.
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The guy dangled over the balcony?
“If that would have happened in my presence, we wouldn’t be here today,” McCloskey said. “I would have taken care of that seven years ago.”
The accused drug dealer said $5,000 disappeared from his wallet after he was stopped by the cops?
“I don’t know how you’d keep $5,000 in a wallet in any denomination,” McCloskey said.
Former officer Jeffrey Walker, a former member of the squad who was caught in an FBI sting robbing a drug dealer and is now the government’s star witness, said during his testimony earlier this month that McCloskey was an inattentive supervisor. Walker said McCloskey let one of the accused officers, Thomas Liciardello, become the de facto leader of the narcotics unit.
Lawyers for the defense allowed McCloskey to dispute that characterization, allowing him to describe raids he went on, and evidence he seized.
Other witnesses, meanwhile, have described Walker as a lazy drunk who slept on the job and couldn’t find a partner willing to work with him.
On cross examination, those characterizations of Walker came back to haunt McCloskey, who was forced to explain why he gave Walker satisfactory performance evaluations.
If he was so attentive, why did the performance evaluations conflict with what other officers seemed to know about Walker, to the point that Walker couldn’t find a partner willing to work with him?
McCloskey said he didn’t know why Walker couldn’t find a partner.