Families of fallen officers speak on legal system

CENTER CITY - November 9, 2010

They are unified in their outrage over the delays and verdicts like the one Monday that spared the life of convicted cop killer Rasheed Scrugs.

"The death penalty needs to be used in Pennsylvania and it needs to be applied when a police officer is gunned down strictly because he is a police officer," Kim Pawlowski, widow of Officer John Pawlowski, said.

The family members of fallen officers who spoke out on Tuesday all fault a judicial system that allows cop killers to escape the penalty and a system that drags out the appeals process for decades.

Maureen Faulkner, widow of Daniel Faulkner, found herself back in court today, 30 years after her husband's killer was condemned to death.

"Every time we have to go back into the courtroom, it's like a wound being ripped back open, it is so emotional for us and our families what we have to go through," Faulkner said.

The killer of Judy Cassidy's husband Chuck was sentenced to death and she wonders if she, like Maureen, will be waiting for justice 30 years from now.

"We all know it's never going to happen, he'll never be murdered in prison like he should," Cassidy said.

The family members who gathered together are asking for judicial reforms, as it is life in prison is automatic if a jury is deadlocked.

They also want reasonable limits on the appeals that keep death row inmates alive for decades.

And they want jurors that follow the law.

"I feel as if that some of the jurors who were selected for our trial that possibly they lied to get on to save the life of one of their peers," Pawlowski said.

State Representative Dennis O'Brien was also present and vowed to push judicial reforms in Harrisburg during the next session that opens up in January.

As it stands right now, Pennsylvania has 220 inmates on death row at annual cost for taxpayers of $7-million.

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