For most of this past evening, a body lay in the street in Roxbury. The deceased man was shot and killed by Boston police officers around 6:40 PM, and his body remained on the street where a crowd gathered until it was finally removed around 11:30 PM. The images from the aftermath of the shooting hearken back to last year's Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. The Boston police say the dead man shot Officer John T. Moynihan first and that the officers returned fire. Moynihan is hospitalized and "fighting for his life" according to Boston Police Commissioner William Evans. A woman also suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound, according to police, but it's not clear who shot her.
Superintendent in Chief William Gross, the Boston Police Department's second in command, is seen in a video uploaded by Lizzy Jean addressing distressed members of the community at the scene of the shooting.
Gross told the crowd, “Officers did a motor vehicle stop, right? As the officer was taking him out of the car, he shot the officer in the face and the officers returned fire. That was it, short and sweet.”
The crowd wanted to know why the body had been left on the road for hours. Gross responded that the body remained in the street because they were waiting for the district attorney and medical examiner to clear the scene and permit the body to be removed. Gross stressed that they did cover the body.
Gross was then addressed by a man who said, “I heard you guys cuffed him after he was bleeding and crying and he remained cuffed.”
Gross replied, “That's training. I didn't know that. I wasn't here for that.”
The man then brought up the earlier confrontation between Boston police officers and members of the crowd. An earlier video uploaded to the Lizzy Jean's account shows the Boston police officers shoving the assembled group of onlookers back.
Gross told the speaker to bring the issue and video to Boston Police Department's Internal Affairs Division. Gross is the second in command of the Boston Police and he failed to ask any basic questions about the alleged misconduct of his officers. Presumably Gross was in command of the scene during this interaction and could have at least asked for the officers' names and then ordered them to leave the area to defuse tensions. Gross chose not to remove the officers from the tense scene nor did he say he would order the officers not to physically engage the crowd. The discussion broke down and Gross departed.
The Boston police's “short and sweet” version of the shooting may be accurate and the shooting may be justified. The department issued the following press release on their website:
At about 6:40 PM on Friday, March 27, 2015, members of the Youth Violence Strike Force conducted a motor vehicle stop in the area of Humboldt Avenue and Ruthven Street in District B-2 (Roxbury).
As officers approached the vehicle, an individual exited the car and opened fire on the officers. In attempts to stop the threat, officers returned fire at the suspect. One officer, identified as 34-year-old Officer John T. Moynihan, suffered a gunshot wound and was transported to Boston Medical Center in critical condition. Officer Moynihan is a six year veteran of the Boston Police Department.
The suspect also suffered gunshot wounds and was pronounced deceased at the scene. A third female victim suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound and was transported to Boston Medical Center. Two additional suspects are in custody on unrelated matters.
The Boston Police Department is actively investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident.
Update (3/28/15): At a press conference this morning, Evans identified the man killed by police as 41-year-old Angelo West, who had previously been convicted in another shooting involving police officers. Evans also said there is video of last night's shooting incident. Evans said Moynihan is in a medically induced coma and still in critical condition.