Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger has done more to stop a journalist from reporting than he has to stop the flagrant misconduct in his department that we exposed.Read More
In a bizarre incident Wednesday, Lynn police arrested George Cross, 40, for expressing himself too closely to Brickett Elementary School. Cross was charged with loitering within 1,000 feet of a school and causing a disturbance at a school after he was spotted wearing a stormtrooper costume from the Star Wars franchise. "He was arrested because he was disturbing the school," Lynn Police Lieutenant Rick Donnelly said. Donnelly said students weren't allowed to leave the building and parents weren't allowed to enter to pick up their children because of the "disturbance" caused by Cross.
"It could've been a tragedy," Donnelly said, but noted that Cross was only carrying a plastic, toy gun.
Cross told several news media outlets, including WHDH, that he was just walking around in the outfit to show his friends.
Donnelly was unsure if Cross had actually set foot on school grounds, saying the police report was unclear. Donnelly would not provide a copy of the report by email, saying it was against policy, but said he would ask to find out if he could send it.
The incident is reminiscent of last year, when Braintree police took a man to court for allegedly impersonating a police officer after he decorated his $80,000 Maserati to look like a character from the Transformers series. That case was laughed out of court by a clerk magistrate.
Update (6/6/2015): After our Maya Shaffer took several hours out of her day to travel to and from the Lynn Police Station, we were finally provided with a copy of the arrest report for George Cross that the department refused to provide by email.
The report states that police spoke with the principal of Brickett Elementary School before arresting Cross. The principal's name was redacted by the police department, but her name is Eileen P. Cole.
The reports states that Cole recognized that Cross was only carrying a plastic toy and not a real gun, but says she locked down the school because “you can never be too safe” and “because she was unaware of his intentions.”
The report notes that Cross was standing on a public sidewalk about 100 feet from the entrance to the school when police arrived and makes no mention of any allegations that he ever set foot on school grounds. The report also makes no mention of police asking Cross to leave the area before arresting him.
According to the report, Cross told police he was standing outside the school “because he thought the children would like the costume,” although he appears to dispute this considering his comments to news media after his arrest.
Maybe Detective Michael DiMeglio is in charge of the Lynn Police Department’s Internal Affairs (IA) files… or maybe whoever is just took a page out of DiMeglio’s book. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the department that continues to employ an officer who failed to report or make any log of hitting me with his unmarked Lynn police caruiser would also fail to file complaints made against their officers. The Herculean task of attempting to get a reasonable response from the Lynn Police Department, after being hit by their officer’s car, having the accident covered up, being intimidated and threatened with false arrest when I tried to report the issues, and having the department fail to comply with the public records law has a new chapter. After Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger sent a letter summarizing his IA investigation’s findings I submitted a records request for several things including the IA files of the officers involved in the incident.
The Lynn police responded – this time within ten days and with a list of records which is a step in the right direction in terms of the public records law – explaining that both officer David Fitzgerald, who refused to identify himself and then illegally refused to show his ID card, and Sergeant Thomas McDermott, who threatened me with false arrest and created a disturbance in the Lynn police station lobby with his yelling and belligerent behavior, have no IA files.
This means after investigating his officers and finding that they broke laws “at their discretion” Coppinger didn’t even file the complaints I made or the results of his investigation in their files.
Accountability at the Lynn Police Department does not exist and seemingly will not under Chief Coppinger. For the $180,000 the citizens of Lynn shell out to Coppinger, they deserve better than this guy.