- By Olivia Hitchcock Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Calvin Walker, 26, of West Palm Beach faces charges of witness tampering and assault. He is being held in the Palm Beach County Jail with his bail set at $505,000.
City police records indicate Walker “knocked loudly” on the witness’s door shortly after 7 a.m. Aug. 24. A pregnant woman opened the door, and Walker, who had a semi-automatic pistol in his waistband, demanded to see the witness. Multiple children were in the home at the time, according to police records.
The woman told authorities Walker “openly displayed” the gun.
“I know he’s trying to kill (the witness), and I was afraid he was going to kill me, too,” the woman told police.
Four days later Walker was back at the home, the woman told authorities. Again, he demanded to see the witness. He was arrested the next day, Aug. 29, while he rode a bike along Tamarind Avenue.
Records indicate that the witness allegedly handed Walker a gun minutes before someone was killed. West Palm Beach police refused to comment on which homicide Walker allegedly is tied to and would not say whether they still suspect Walker in that case.
Walker’s defense attorney in the witness tampering case did not return The Post’s request for comment in regard to Walker’s alleged role in a homicide.
It is unclear whether West Palm Beach police were offering any additional protection for the homicide witness. They would not comment, even generally, on any tactics they may use to protect witnesses.
Witnesses’ and victims’ fears of retaliation often hinder law-enforcement agencies’ investigations into violent crimes. Most of the investigations into the city’s 22 reported homicides this year and the 28 reported in 2017 remain open without any arrests having been made.
Nearly a year ago, during a peace walk last year spurred by a string of shootings south of Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, West Palm Beach police Chief Sarah Mooney said she understood that people are afraid to come forward.
But she stressed: “We can’t alleviate that fear if we don’t have the ability to remove the people who are creating that for you.”
State law allows law-enforcement agencies to relocate victims, witnesses and their immediate families in “serious” felony cases, such as murder. They must be considered “at risk of harm” due to their cooperation with the investigation and prosecution of the case.
Last year, state legislators nearly unanimously approved a bill that would give witnesses in murder cases additional protection, at least in public records.
State lawmakers agreed to amend Florida’s Sunshine Law and to keep murder witnesses’ personal identifying information listed in police and court records confidential for two years from the date of the murder.
State Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Miami, pushed for the “witness protection bill,” arguing it would encourage homicide witnesses who previously wouldn’t have cooperated with police for fear of retaliation to speak up.
Local legislators Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, and then-Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, voted “no” on the bill. Clemens told reporters that he feared the bill would provide “false hope” for murder witnesses seeking protection.