Richard Hyatt: Kenneth Walker anniversary brings back reporting memories

December 10, 2013 

Memories of Kenneth Walker's death have faded, but I still remember his mother, his widow and his little girl.

And when I think of them, I also remember the man who pulled the trigger on the side of Interstate 185.

I was surprised when Walker's face stared back at me from the front page of Sunday's newspaper, but more shocking was the realization that it has been 10 years since he died.

My role as a reporter came 263 days after his shooting. In summer 2004, I recreated that tragic night and then introduced readers to the victim and the shooter.

Walker emerged as a former high school basketball star, longtime Blue Cross Blue Shield employee and a father who had already bought his child's Christmas presents. Former Deputy Sheriff David Glisson, the shooter, was a 20-year lawman who grew up in a family of cops and a man who died three times after suffering a heart attack.

Months of reporting went into those articles, but more than anything I remember consecutive days of personal interviews that took me behind police reports and exposed the raw, open wounds of the people left behind.

First came an interview with Glisson in the office of attorney Richard Hagler.

Glisson hadn't talked to a reporter since the shooting and Hagler established strict ground rules about what could be discussed. When I crossed the line, I found myself talking to the lawyer instead of the disgraced deputy.

I looked over at Glisson and his wife and they were fiercely holding each other.

I turned away from Hagler and apologized, explaining how awkward it was talking about them as if they were not there.

Twenty-four hours later, I sat down with Emily Walker, the mother of the victim, and Cheryl Walker, his wife and the mother of his 3-year-old child. As it was the day before, I was moved to tears as they shared reflections of Kenny.

This is a story with many layers that left behind scars and questions. What began as a crime story about a misguided drug case was so much more, as the comment boards this week remind us.

To a journalist, this is an anniversary that bears remembering. But what is it to those people left behind?

They chose not to be involved in the stories, but we know that Emily Walker is fighting issues of age and health and that Kenneth's child is now an adolescent. As for Glisson, his marriage crumbled and his wavering physical condition has kept him from holding a full-time job.

The fact that none of them chose to be involved in this week's stories should send us a message. They're trying to move on with life -- and maybe we should, too.

Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at hyatt31906@knology.net.

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