The Commerce Journal

November 14, 2013

House Walker was inspecting still not up to code

By Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — On June 13, 2005, Michael “Pee Wee” Walker was shot and killed by Adam Ward.

Walker was taking photographs of a structure on Caddo Street in Commerce as part of his job as a code enforcement officer. Ward, whose father Ralph still owns the property, chased after Walker and shot him nine times. Walker left behind a son and daughter.

The house that Walker was taking photos of is still in violation of city codes, more than eight years later.

And, despite a report from a code enforcement expert stating that the building is in violation of the city’s substandard/dangerous structure ordinance, the city has not moved forward to rectify the matter.

“[The city] has not validated or honored my son’s death by enforcing the codes on that house once,” Michael’s father, Dick, said. “This issue can be righted by the city. That’s all I’m asking them to do: honor him by following through and showing you really support your employees.”

The report, dated March 24 of this year, indicates that the house’s roof, second story, and foundation are in stages of disrepair.

Walker brought the report to the council’s attention again in September.

“We did have [Chip] Matthews, who is an expert in the field, come in and look at that address, along with some other ones,” Commerce City Manager Marc Clayton said. “Our stance on code enforcement is that we enforce all the codes in Commerce.”

Clayton said that the Caddo address is on the city’s list, along with several other properties.

“Our staff prioritizes the list, and we have several addresses on our radar, along with the Caddo one. We will continue to enforce all of the ordinances on the books.”

Walker’s murder doesn’t impact how the city prioritizes properties, according to Clayton.

“I would say that it doesn’t have an impact on the decisions we make as we prioritize the violators,” he said. “We would definitely be careful at the address because of past history; we’re very careful whenever we go out.”

Adam Ward was convicted of capital murder in 2007 and is currently facing the death penalty.

Clayton said that the city council is responsible for approving the codes and the code enforcement guidelines and it is up to the staff to enforce the codes.

Michael’s two children, who were 9 and 11 years old at the time of his murder, have been raised by Michael’s father, and are both doing well, according to Dick.

“They’re both doing great,” he said. “All A’s and B’s, so we’re happy.”