Walker, who has since passed away, was arrested in August 2005 as a suspect in a store robbery after a store clerk said Walker looked like the middle-aged black man who had robbed the store just a few days prior. Although no evidence was found linking Walker to the robbery, his arrest led to him being considered a prime suspect in a chain of similar robberies in the area, writes the L.A. Times. Over a dozen robberies were connected by the thief’s pattern of giving misspelled hand-written notes to cashiers demanding money.
According to the L.A. Times, LAPD detectives Steven Moody and Robert Pulido were adamant about keeping Walker in jail while the investigation continued, and filed a report which told prosecutors that since Walker’s arrest the robbery spree had stopped. However, two more robberies that involved the same hand-written notes occurred a couple days after Walker’s arrest, providing evidence that Walker was not the right man. The detectives later testified that they were aware of the robberies but withheld this information from prosecutors, writes the L.A. Times.
The L.A. Times reports that charges against Walker were finally dropped after his attorneys learned that Walker’s fingerprints were not found at the store where he was arrested and that the fingerprints at the crime scene matched those of another man who had been arrested while fleeing from a store robbery a month after Walker’s arrest. Walker had been detained for 27 months, and, upon his release, he sued the LAPD and the detectives for concealing evidence which would have proved his innocence much earlier.
In refusing to hear an appeal from the city, the Supreme Court let stand a decision from the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that found that the Constitution bars “prolonged” pre-trial detention when police fail to disclose evidence pointing to innocence.