Boston Police Commissioner William Evans thinks officer Edward Barrett, who was recorded off duty attacking a pedestrian, isn't a threat.Read More
The entire Boston media failed to accurately report on the off duty Boston cop who attacked a pedestrian.Read More
Off duty Boston police officer chases down and attacks pedestrian in a road rage incident then hauls him away claiming he is under arrest. Luckily a passerby recorded the interaction.Read More
Boston police say they are investigating a video which shows police arresting a man who swore at them, then grabbing him by the throat after he was handcuffed.
The video, which The Free Thought Project reports was initially posted to Facebook last week, begins by showing a plainclothes police officer recording people with a cellphone.
A few seconds into the video, a man approaches the videographer and swears at the camera.
“Fuck the pigs, my nigga,” the man. “Tell your bitch, ‘suck my dick,’ nigga.”
Another plainclothes police officer approaches the man, then threatens him.
“You wanna go to arrested?” the officer asks.
The man walks away and attempts to cross the street, but the police officer follows him, then leads him over to a police cruiser. The plainclothes officer he can be heard telling a uniformed police officer that he is arresting the man for disorderly conduct. The plainclothes officer claims the man was blocking traffic and was “jumping up and down.”
After the police handcuff the man, they begin putting him inside the cruiser, and he begins yelling and swearing at them again.
As he yells, the uniformed police officer grabs him by the throat and appears to strangle him for several seconds before finally pushing him into the cruiser.
Several people begin yelling and the uniformed officer slaps away the hand of another person recording the incident. A shoving match erupts between the police and members of the public.
“Somebody’s gonna get shot,” the videographer yells.
The plainclothes police officer who arrested the man pulls out a baton and orders the videographer to cross the street and stand on the sidewalk. The videographer gets on the sidewalk, then the police officer walks up to him and starts pushing him, then grabs him by the wrist, and asks another police officer for a set of handcuffs to arrest him.
A woman walks up, telling the police that the videographer is her “little brother” and that she’s “taking him home.”
The video ends, leaving it unclear whether the videographer was arrested.
Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts have told local media outlets that the arrested man's actions were protected by the First Amendment and that he shouldn't have been arrested.
The police department did not respond to a request for comment, but on Monday they confirmed to several local news outlets that they are investigating the video.
“No one has come forward to complain [about the incident], but that hasn’t stopped us from at least turning it over to Internal Affairs,” Boston Police Lieutenant Michael McCarthy told The Boston Globe.
Although the department hasn't finished its investigation, that didn't stop McCarthy from insisting that the man in the video wasn't being strangled.
“It’s on the base of his neck,” McCarthy said. “They’re trying to push him down into the police car, and he continued to talk and yell. There’s no indication that there was any type of force used around his neck.”
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also said the man was not strangled.
“If there was choking, he would not be able to speak,” Walsh said, according to The Boston Herald. “I don’t know all of the particulars, but I have spoken to the Commissioner and I will be briefed later on, but I don’t view that as choking.”
In 2014, Massachusetts passed a law aimed at stopping domestic violence which, in part, made it a separate crime to strangle someone. Under the law, a person convicted of strangulation faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the person causes serious bodily injury, they can face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
McCarthy reportedly declined to name the officer in the video.
We have a filed a public records request for the video the plainclothes police officer is seen recording with a cellphone.
Boston police officers once again failed to wear their badges or identify themselves at a public event, but this time one of the 23 top ranking department officials called the department’s “command staff” was on hand to step in. Sadly, when Deputy Superintendent William Ridge did involve himself in the incident, he joined in with his officers in their unlawful behavior and took it a step further by trying to intimidate me.
On July 4, the Boston police deployed outside of the Esplanade area where Boston’s Independence Day celebration is held. I was there to document the police checkpoints at the Esplanade itself, but on my way I noticed four Boston police officers standing in a doorway. Two of the rifle-toting cops were not displaying their badges, so I asked them to identify themselves. They refused. I then asked all of the officers to comply with the Massachusetts police ID card law that requires municipal police officers to carry and show a police ID upon lawful request. Three out of four of the officers refused and the fourth would only show his card to me off camera.Read More
Lieutenant Michael McCarthy, the Boston police official who handles public records requests, and the Boston Police Department are serial violators of the Massachusetts public records law, which is supposed to allow anyone to review government documents in a timely manner. Any violation of the public records law is a crime, punishable by fines and up to a year in jail, but thus far the Commonwealth has shown no interest in bringing criminals like McCarthy to justice. The Massachusetts public record law is one of -- if not the -- weakest Freedom of Information laws in the nation. Part of the state's dismal reputation is due to the complete failure of any prosecuting body to uphold the law. The law, as weak as it is, actually does have a section which specifies that any violation of any provision of the law a misdemeanor.
This year I've had seven appeals opened by the Supervisor of Records regarding the Boston Police Department’s failures to follow the public records law, and since the beginning of the year there have been 19 total appeals opened by the Supervisor of Records regarding the Boston police.
On July 1, the Supervisor of Records closed one of my appeals which dates back to a request I made on January 7. After a mere six months, the supervisor ordered the Boston police to respond to my request within ten more days. This makes a mockery of the provision in the law requiring departments to respond as soon as possible and within ten days.
The supervisor's order showed that behind the scenes, the Boston police had been misleading his office. According to the supervisor's order, “An attorney on my staff contacted you [i.e., Michael McCarthy] a number of times and was informed that Ms. Shaffer would receive a written, good faith estimate for the cost of providing her with the requested records.”
Ten days came and went with no response from the Boston police, so I requested that the supervisor turn the case over to the attorney general's office for a criminal prosecution. Despite the obviously easy to prove criminal offense, there will almost certainly be no penalty suffered by the Boston police for their noncompliance. The attorney general's office recently told The Boston Globe that they cant recall ever enforcing the the criminal aspect of the law.
Even when McCarthy and the Boston police refused to communicate with the supervisor's office about an outstanding request, nothing was done to enforce the law. On another one of my appeals, The supervisor wrote:
Despite contact by my office, including correspondence sent on at least seven occasions since April 2015, the Department has failed to comply with its mandatory obligations under the Public Records Law to respond to a request for public records. Accordingly, whereas the Department has not overcome the presumption that the requested records are public, the Department is hereby ordered, within ten (10) day of this order, to provide Ms. Shaffer with the requested records.
After this order, the Boston police finally turned over the requested records, but took more than 10 days. The records revealed a previously undisclosed $1800 spent by the taxpayers of Boston to send two police officers to hang out with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in California while he meeting with the United States Olympics Committee and Boston 2024 to secure a chance to bid to host the 2024 Olympics.
In yet another order, the supervisor wrote:
Despite contact by my office, including correspondence sent on at least five occasions since April 2015, the Department has failed to comply with its mandatory obligations under the Public Records Law to respond to a request for public records. Accordingly, whereas the Department has not overcome the presumption that the requested records are public, the Department is hereby ordered, within ten (10) day of this order, to provide Ms. Shaffer with the requested records.
The department did not comply with this order either, so I asked again for McCarthy to be prosecuted.
One reason there are never prosecutions is that the Supervisor of Records office acts as a gatekeeper. The supervisor has oversight over the public records law and his office has discretion to escalate a records appeal to the attorney general’s office for enforcement. This is a problem because the supervisor does maddening things like ruling, “That whereas the substantive response was provided on the eleventh day... the Department acted in compliance with the spirit of the law.” Would you ever tell a judge that you were "driving within the spirit of the law" because you were only driving a few miles over the speed limit? Ruling that criminal violations of the public records law is in "the spirit of the law" is a bigger indictment of the Commonwealth's lack of transparency than any weak points the existing law has.
Unsurprisingly, given the coddling of criminals like McCarthy, one of my most recent requests sent to the Boston police was met with the department's standard email warning, letting me know they don't intend to follow the law this time either: "Please be advised that we research each request in the order it was received, and it may take longer than ten days to be fulfilled. If your request requires a substantial amount of research, reviewing and redacting, fulfilling the request will take a significant amount of time. Please plan accordingly" (emphasis added). Taking longer than ten days is a misdemeanor, but the Boston police take such a cavalier attitude toward the law that they're willing to flout their intent to violate the law in writing.
Criminals like McCarthy correctly assume they are above the law, and no an update to the law can fix these issue unless the Supervisor of Records and attorney general's office decide to do their jobs. I support reforming the law, but it won't matter if the law continues to go unenforced. When one of our appeals was sent to Attorney General Maura Healey -- the first time in five years any appeal reached the attorney general's office -- she wrung her hands and complained about the law's "lack of teeth." But giving the law more teeth won't give Healey a spine.
On July 4, I spotted a Boston police K9 unit SUV with an expired inspection sticker. Luckily I found two Boston police officers, one who even had his badge on, hanging around a nearby trashcan. I asked them to ticket the vehicle. Predictably, they refused to uphold the law when it would affect one of their own.
The officers responded, “Is this for real?,” “It’s not my cruiser,” and “Go talk to the bosses.”
On Friday, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office and Boston Police Department released a video depicting part of the widely publicized March 27 shooting incident in Roxbury. The video confirms the account of the shooting that police have provided to the public thus far. It shows police conducting a traffic stop of Angelo West, who produces a firearm and shoots Officer John Moynihan point blank in the face. West flees from the police off camera, where he is fatally shot.
While the video has been released to the public, District Attorney Dan Conley has yet to rule on whether the shooting by police was justified and the investigation of the incident is still ongoing. According to a statement from the police department, the injured police officer John Moynihan was released from the hospital over the weekend and his "condition is best described as serious but improving."
Many in local media are praising the decision to release the video, saying it shows how transparent the district attorney and Boston police department are being. Ed Davis, the former Boston police commissioner who now works for WBZ, said of the decision to release the video: "After Ferguson, and after all the things that have happened across the nation, this is the new standard."
But this talk of police setting a "new standard" by releasing the video ignores the fact that police are already obligated by the state's public records law to turn over copies of records to any member of the public who asks for them. Law enforcement can sometimes withhold information related to an ongoing investigation, but must show that releasing the records would compromise the investigation.
There are actually three videos of the shooting incident, but only one of them has been released to the general public even though the other two have already been shown to several community members handpicked by law enforcement. According to The Boston Herald:
“The video we saw had a better angle than the video they posted today ... it was a very difficult video to watch,” Michael Curry told the Herald. “The video that you saw today was not as tough to see as the video we saw.”
Curry said he and other community leaders were shown a third video... after the family of Angelo West... raised concerns about whether cops made an effort to save him.
“They took us downstairs to show us a second video that we hadn’t seen yet and that’s the video that shows a man that appears to be Mr. West collapsing with a gun in his hand and then police running up and removing the gun and turning him over onto his back,” Curry said. “It seems clear from that video that because of the location of the injuries, the police were able to determine that he was deceased by the time he hit the ground.”
Given that police were able to show these two videos additional to a small group of community members who are not part of the investigation, it is apparent that releasing these videos would not hamper their efforts.
We made a public records request on March 29 for videos of the shooting, but the Boston Police Department has not yet responded to it even though state law mandates compliance with records requests within 10 days. The police did not even respond to alert us when they released the first video, suggesting that they do not take their obligations under state law seriously.
While many are heaping praise on Boston law enforcement for releasing this video, we don't believe that they deserve any of it when they won't even follow existing standards for transparency.
We have filed an appeal with the Supervisor of Records, requesting that the police be ordered to comply with our records request.
In an interview with Dorchester Reporter, Mayor Marty Walsh complained that the so-called "community meetings" he helped set up to discuss the Boston 2024 Olympics proposal have been dominated by people opposed to the games, who he said aren't part of the "actual community":
The community meetings that the city has convened to date, he says, have been dominated by anti-Olympics voices.
“When you have one side dominating the crowd, it’s not a true process,” Walsh told the Reporter. “Let the actual community ask the questions.”
It's ridiculous to suggest that the community meetings have really been "dominated" by people opposed to the Olympics. Here's an alternate perspective from Robin Jacks and Jonathan Cohn, both members of the group No Boston 2024 who have attended several of these meetings:
The meetings are advertised as “an opportunity to discuss the benefits of hosting the Games and impact on the City.” However, it is clear at these meetings that neither the mayor nor Boston 2024 [the private group trying to bring the Olympics to the city] is interested in a serious debate about whether or not the city should (or even wants to) host the Olympics.
The first hour of each meeting is taken up by a marketing pitch from Boston 2024, filled with massaged numbers, Olympic buzzwords and a personal narrative from John Fish about the ”transformative power of sport.” Although the meeting is nominally organized by the mayor and facilitated by a project manager from the Boston Redevelopment Authority, it is clear that it is Boston 2024, not city officials, who is in charge. (The appearance that a private, unelected group is running a city meeting is only enhanced by the fact that Mayor Walsh, the purported host, has shown up an hour late.)
At the most recent of these meetings, which occurred this past Tuesday, Mayor Walsh didn't even bother showing up.
Even if the majority of people attending these meetings and asking questions are opposed to the Olympics, that's probably just a reflection of the fact that most residents don't want the Olympics. The most recent WBUR/MassInc poll on the issue found that just 36% of Boston area residents support the Boston 2024 Olympic bid, while 52% are opposed. If we take Walsh at his word, he apparently doesn't believe that more than half the residents the area count as the "actual community."
This attempt to marginalize the opposition to the Olympics is arrogant. But that arrogance should come as no surprise because it has characterized nearly every Olympics-related move made by Walsh, like trying to ban city employees from criticizing the games and speaking out against a possible referendum.
After the dramatic police shooting incident on Friday that left Angelo West dead, Boston police officer John T. Moynihan critically injured, and another woman with non-life-threatening injuries, the Boston Police Department made the unusual decision to share the video with a limited number of people. Both Police Commissioner William Evans and Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley have both described the video, saying it exonerates the police officers, showing they killed West only after he opened fire on them and shot Moynihan in the face. Thankfully, Moynihan underwent a successful surgery after the shooting and is expected to recover. According to The Boston Herald:
Black ministers, pols and community leaders praised Boston police yesterday for their unprecedented move to share a video with them of the Friday night shooting of a gang cop in Roxbury — footage they say exonerates officers — and called for such cooperation to become routine in police shootings.
“There’s this level of transparency, there’s this level of open candidness, that we’re going to do this not as us versus them, or them versus us. But we’re working on this … collectively,” said Darnell Williams, president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts.
Williams was among a group of black clergy, community leaders and elected officials who yesterday saw footage at Boston police headquarters of Friday night’s shootout and critical wounding of officer John T. Moynihan...
Williams and others, including state Rep. Russell Holmes and City Councilor Tito Jackson, spoke at Roxbury’s Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church yesterday afternoon, before walking to the shooting scene and speaking to residents and business owners about what was caught on camera.
Boston’s NAACP branch president Michael Curry said the video footage was indisputable, and showed police did nothing wrong.
“The police officer opened the vehicle car door and was shot in the face by the driver of the vehicle. That’s very clear in the video,” Curry said. “The suspect in question … then began to shoot at the other officers on the other side of the vehicle.”
Williams and Curry said officers didn’t have guns drawn when they approached the SUV.
“For the first time since I’ve been an activist in the city, there’s at least an openness to letting us see the video. To responding to our questions around what happened. That’s progress,” Curry said.
Holmes said he hopes police establish a protocol in releasing videos after police shootings, and called for body cameras.
The Boston Globe also spoke positively of the decision to share the video with this limited group of people, saying it "could serve as a model" for future responses to police shootings.
But to truly serve as a model, the Boston police should have simply released the video to the general public. While the police will probably eventually release the video to the public, they should have simply done so at the time they shared it with this limited group. If the police were able to share the video with these people without jeopardizing the integrity of their investigation, there's no reason they can't release it to the public at large.
Releasing the video could help defuse some of the the tension that was obviously present during the confrontations between police officers and residents the night of the shooting. Killing someone is serious matter and, if you haven't done anything wrong, being as transparent as possible is the best way to build trust.
I have little doubt that the video shows that the shooting was justified, but, as The Salem News wisely observed in an editorial related to a different police shooting, "Releasing information does not imply that someone did something wrong. In fact, it assures the public that there is nothing to hide."
We have filed a public records request for the video and we hope that the Boston Police Department will serve as a model for transparency by releasing it to us and other news media organizations in a timely fashion.