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
In the Commonwealth, even paying for public records doesn’t guarantee you’ll get them.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.
In a recent interview with The Boston Herald, Boston police Commissioner William Evans whined about people who record the police, even going so far as to call for a new law that would criminalize the act of recording a police officer while standing within a certain distance of them.
“If we can get legislation to make it fair, so it protects both sides, then I’m all for it,” Evans told the Herald. “Would I love to see a little distance? I'd love to see that.”
I'm glad Evans finally admits that the public needs legal protection when they record his officers. I've needed protection from the Boston police for years as they have threatened me with false arrests, with “physical removal” from a public building, and shoved me around. Actually, I don't really think that's what the commissioner meant.Read More
As Massachusetts edges closer to becoming one of the next states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, law enforcement officials are predictably resorting to reefer madness as they fight to stop the inevitable. Speaking to Boston Herald Radio on Wednesday, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans absurdly claimed that legalizing marijuana would lead to more home invasions.
According to Evans, “A lot of home invasions always seem to revolve around someone selling marijuana. Young college kids tying to supplement their income. We get a half-dozen every year where they invite regular city kids over and next thing you know, their door is getting broken down and they are getting robbed.”
But Evans has things backward: If marijuana is legalized, we should expect to see a decrease in marijuana-related home invasions.
The reason marijuana is sometimes linked to home invasions isn't that there's something inherently dangerous about it; it's the very fact that it's illegal.
People who sell marijuana and other illegal drugs can't accept credit cards, so they have to deal in cash, which puts them at risk of being robbed. Additionally, since what they're doing is illegal, drug dealers who are robbed aren't likely to call the police since they risk going to jail as well.
In fact, last year, a home invasion victim in Worcester was arrested after calling the police when they showed up at his home and found he had been selling marijuana. In that home invasion, police found pounds of marijuana, suggesting the robbers were more interested in the cash than the drugs.
"We have found that the majority of home invasions involve the sale and distribution of marijuana," Worcester police chief Gary Gemme said after that incident. "The public should be aware that most of these incidents are not random acts but are targeted by those in the drug trade."
But instead of drawing the logical conclusion from his own remarks, Gemme decided to blame the victim: "There is always a heighten [sic] level of aggression and violence when these types of incidents occur and those who participate in these illegal activities put themselves and the public in danger."
It's not marijuana dealers who put the public at risk, it's drug warriors like Evans and Gemme who insist on keeping a perfectly safe drug in the black market.
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.
The weather in Boston during this year's Independence Day was beautiful, but the atmosphere was marred by the an overbearing law enforcement presence and police state checkpoints. The police establishment in Boston has previously claimed the power to search backpacks at checkpoints set up on on public streets during certain events without probable cause. Now they are claiming the power to simply ban backpacks from public places even though there is no law that allows them to do so.Read More