PHILADELPHIA – A Philadelphia policeman shot while on duty four decades ago died of his injuries this week, raising the possibility of a homicide charge against a man who already served a prison sentence for the shooting, authorities said.
Walter T. Barclay, a rookie officer, was gunned down Nov. 27, 1966, while trying to stop the burglary of a beauty shop in the city's East Oak Lane section. Barclay, who was left a paraplegic, died Sunday at age 64.
William J. Barnes, now 71, was sentenced to a 10- to 20-year term in the shooting.
Chief Inspector of Detectives Joseph Fox said Tuesday that the Bucks County coroner had ruled Barclay's death a homicide stemming from complications from the shooting. Police are talking with prosecutors to decide whether Barnes should now be charged with murder in the case, he said.
The District Attorney's Office issued a short statement Tuesday, saying only, "We intend to review all of the evidence before making a decision in this case." Prosecutors would not elaborate.
Lawyers asked about the case said prosecutors would be on solid legal ground to charge Barnes, but that proving the case would be challenging.
"Complications from a shooting 30 or 40 years ago don't take 30 or 40 years to surface," said Jeffrey Lindy, a former federal prosecutor now working as a defense lawyer. "A medical expert could say it could be from this or it could be from that."
Barclay's sister, Rosalyn Harrison, said her brother suffered "horribly" after the shooting.
"You have no idea what a hard time he had," she said.