EXCLUSIVE: The story of former Philadelphia police officer Jeffrey Walker is headed to the screen. The Nacelle Company, Stone Canyon Entertainment and producer Devon Shepard (Being Mary Jane) have optioned Walker’s life rights for possible TV or film development, with Stephen Belber (The Laramie Project) attached to pen the script.
Per producers, over the course of a 20-year career as a narcotics officer with the Philadelphia PD, Walker, an African American, became co-opted by a system that harasses, unfairly arrests and often kills those in the very community from which he came. This is the story of Walker’s redemption, as he hits bottom and then begins the courageous work of helping dismantle that same system he helped to thrive. Walker’s story goes to the heart of our moment, in which people want answers to a problem we’re all part of: how did we get here, and where can we go now? An inspiring, epic and true story that doesn’t pull punches as it depicts a broken system-and one man’s fight to fix it.
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Walker was sentenced to 42 months in prison in 2015 after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges after he was caught stealing money in an FBI sting. He later became a key witness for dozens of former suspects arrested by Walker’s narcotics unit who were seeking restitution from the city of Philadelphia. He testified against six colleagues in his squad, all of whom were acquitted.
It has not been decided whether the project will be for TV or film. We hear a TV series appears more likely. It would be set in present day with Walker testifying, featuring flashbacks to when he started on the police force.
Belber’s plays have been produced on Broadway and in over 25 countries. They include Match, Tape, Don’t Go Gentle, Dusk Rings a Bell, McReele, Finally and Geometry of Fire, among others. He was Emmy-nominated for outstanding writing for a miniseries, movie or a dramatic special for 2002’s The Laramie Project, about the reaction to the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. His other television writing credits include Rescue Me and Law & Order SVU.
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