PHILADELPHIA (CN) – The 3rd Circuit ruled that a police chief is not liable for failing to warn a murder victim of the release of the man who eventually killed him.
Michael Walter returned from vacation to hear disturbing news from his daughters, who stayed with neighbor Joe Stacy. The girls claimed Stacy had sexually assaulted them.
Westfall Township police arrested Stacy at Walter’s house, although the parties disagree on whose idea it was to lure him there for the arrest. Stacy was arrested for the sexual assaults and for having a huge supply of illegal firearms at his house.
Walter wrote a letter to the judge asking him to deny bail, but the judge did not grant the request. Walter said that when he was at work, he would not be able to protect his wife and 10 children from Stacy.
However, they were not Stacy’s targets. Stacy began to stalk the police chief, Timothy Mitchell. District Attorney Douglas Jacobs and his assistant, Bruce DeSarro, chose not to warn Walter that Stacy was stalking Mitchell.
Stacy later went to Walter’s auto dealership and shot him in the groin and head, killing him.
Walter’s wife and children sued Mitchell for failing to warn them of Stacy’s release. Mitchell died in 2006 while the suit was pending.
“The facts show that Mitchell did not disregard the risk,” Judge Michel ruled, “but rather weighed it against the possible benefits that could result.”