While looking into the violent arrest of an 88 year old woman (an event the Pittsfield police say will taint their department's reputation for years) we accidentally discovered that the Pittsfield police had lost evidence in an unknown number of cases without telling anyone. We made Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless aware of the loss, but his office also failed to notify anyone.Read More
The Sutton Police Department refuses to accept my report of a criminal violation of the records law.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.
Fall River mother of four Monica Velozo provided The Bay State Examiner with a video of Fall River police officer Keith Pires barging into her home on July 26 for no apparent reason. In the video, Pires threatens to arrest her and report her to the Department of Children and Families when she refuses to go upstairs, then grabs at her phone.
The short video clip begins with Pires already in the doorway and Velozo very agitated, and the situation quickly escalates.
Velozo said she was very scared, but decided to release the footage anyway.
“I am a mother to four and this can't continue. We should feel safe when we see a police car not have a panic attack,” she said.
According to Velozo, Pires showed up at her home to respond to a domestic issue that had been resolved prior to his arrival. “I told [my father] to leave,” she explained. “30 minutes later cops are here. I went downstairs to let them know they will not be coming upstairs because that's where my children were.... Long story short my dad said he would be back next week, so I asked the officer how I could make sure that didn't happen.”
“He charged up my porch and by the time I hit record he was already pushing his way into my hallway. That's why when the video starts, I'm backing up because he was pointing in my face and pushing himself forward,” Velozo said.
In the video, Pires threatens: “I’m gonna tell you the last time, okay? Go upstairs or you’re gonna get locked up, okay? That’s number one, okay, and I will call DCF on you. You understand that?” Pires grabs at the Velozo’s camera immediately after making the threat. Velozo’s voice becomes even more agitated as she tells Pires that what he is doing is illegal. Pires backs off from her, then addresses her boyfriend Shawn while she continues to protest his actions.
“He just grabbed my phone out of my hand. I’m posting it and everybody’s getting fired,” Velozo says in the video. Pires responds, “Okay, I’m gonna tell you what. I’m gonna notify DCF [unintelligible...] Okay? That’s being done,” Pires responds.
“I thought for sure I was going to get arrested when I told him I was recording. His eyes were scary. Very intimidating man,” Velozo said.
The video doesn’t show how the interaction began, but shows enough to conclude that Pires was out of control. He entered the home aggressively with no warrant on a call for a domestic incident that had already ended before his arrival. He threatened and physically attacked Velozo in her own home for refusing to go upstairs. And he used the threat of calling DCF to try to force her to comply with his demands.
The unreasonableness of Pires’s entry into the home is demonstrated by that fact he never claimed that he suspected anyone inside of committing a crime, and he left shortly after entering. Pires actions seem to be part of a pattern. Last year, Fall River police officer Thomas Barboza barged onto the porch of resident George Thompson, shoved him to the ground, and arrested him after he became upset that the man was recording him.
Barboza faced no penalty for the wrongful arrest, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Pires would behave in a similarly aggressive way. For this reason, Fall River Police Chief Dan Racine deserves some of the blame for Pires' actions. The Fall River police non-emergency number is (508) 676-8511. You can also find the department on Facebook.
A Chelsea police officer was arraigned earlier today on criminal charges after a video surfaced that allegedly shows him beating a handcuffed man during a Sept. 26, 2014, incident. Police officer Felix Rivera, Jr., 34, is facing charges of assault and battery, filing a false police report, and violating a man's civil rights.
According to a joint press release issued by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office and Chelsea Police Department:
Based on Rivera’s report, the victim – then 20 and a resident of Chelsea – was arraigned in Chelsea District Court on charges of assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. In March of this year, however, the victim’s attorney provided Suffolk prosecutors with a video clip filmed by an unknown witness showing the incident and argued that the charges against the victim were unfounded.
The ensuing investigation by Assistant District Attorney Michele Granda of the DA’s Special Prosecutions Unit and Chelsea Police Internal Affairs detectives developed significant evidence, including the statements of other officers, that corroborated the victim’s claims. As a result, prosecutors terminated the pending case against the victim and began presenting evidence and testimony to the Suffolk County Grand Jury.
The investigation revealed that multiple Chelsea Police units responded to the rear of 155 Chestnut St. that night for a report of a man with a gun. Among those present at the scene was the victim, whom a supervising officer found to be intoxicated and interfering with the investigation. This supervisor directed other officers to place him into protective custody and remove him from the area.
As the handcuffed victim was being escorted away, Rivera allegedly struck him four times in the face, knocking him to the ground. Another officer reached out to stop him. This officer denied the allegation in Rivera’s report that the victim had pushed him while being led from the scene.
Rivera has been suspended without pay from his job and is currently being represented by attorney Keith Nicholson.
The district attorney's office has not released the video yet, but we have filed a public records request for it.
While it's good news that this officer was charged if the allegations are true, this case still raises a number of troubling questions.
If other officers had witnessed this beating and saw that it was unjustified, as the press release claims, then Rivera should have been arrested on the spot and no charges should have been filed against the victim.
Instead, the victim was charged and the district attorney's office seems to have had every intention of prosecuting him based solely on the word of Rivera. Charges against the victim were not dropped until about five months after the incident occurred and not until a video contradicting the officer's statements was released.
Perhaps instead of blindly trusting police officers who claim to be victims of assault, prosecutors should begin insisting on being provided with actual evidence before filing criminal charges.
Rivera was previously awarded a Medal of Valor for his role in stopping an armed home invasion, showing that faith alone isn't enough even for seemingly heroic police officers.
It remains to be seen whether the district attorney's office will re-open every other case this Rivera has been involved in, given that they have established that he is a liar.
It's not clear if any of the other officers who were involved in the incident are facing any potential consequences for not immediately reporting the beating or arresting the perpetrator.
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
Officer Blake Holt of the Braintree Police Department is at it again. We can now add the New Year’s Eve takedown of Jeramie Croft to Holt’s track record of terrible policing. Holt attacked Croft, who was already in custody, after he refused to take off one of the two pairs of pants he had on. After the incident, Croft was taken to the hospital to treat the facial injury he sustained. A woman who answered Croft's phone and said she was his girlfriend said he had bruising on his face from the incident. The woman would not provide her name.Read More
The day after a deadly police shooting in Boston, officials from the police department showed a surveillance video of the incident to a small group of handpicked community members during a closed-door meeting. Usaama Rahim, 26, died on Tuesday after a Boston police officer and FBI agent opened fire on him outside of a CVS in the Roslindale neighborhood.
During a press conference after yesterday's meeting, Boston police commissioner William Evans said that five members of the FBI and Boston Police Department approached Rahim to question him and were forced to shoot after he came at them with a knife. Evans said Rahim was hit three times.Read More
On Tuesday, April 14, a man was grabbed and detained by police in Lawrence who were trying to stop him from exercising his First Amendment right to record them in public. John Carattini was walking down a street when he spotted three people seemingly being detained by two plainclothes police officers. He began recording with his camera and walked past them, giving no indication that he planned to stick around and continue recording. After passing the officers, one of them called out to him and ordered him to come back.
The officer asked if Carattini was recording them and demanded that he turn over his camera as “evidence” (according to the Department of Justice, police generally need a warrant to seize a camera as evidence). The police officer then immediately escalated the situation by grabbing the camera.Read More
District Attorney Marian Ryan began an investigation into the killing of Doug Sparks, who was shot to death by Tewksbury police officers on February 17. Ryan also held a press conference to announce the future result that her investigation will find. Sparks is not a sympathetic figure: he had a knife and a BB gun, and had stabbed two people (non-fatally, but still…) shortly before the Tewksbury police found and killed him.
According to eyewitness Suzanne Greenan, Sparks may have been shot while surrendering to police.
Greenan said that Sparks had at least one arm raised in the air, and that Sparks’ other arm could have been raised as well but was not visible from her vantage point. While this opens the possibility that Sparks was surrendering, it also means that Sparks may well have pointed the BB gun at the officers, virtually forcing them to open fire.
This exact circumstance is why badge cameras are so valuable to everyone, including police officers. A badge camera would remove any doubt as to what actions led up to the shooting, and would protect the officers involved, assuming they were justified in their use of force.
Ryan is charged with investigating this homicide and the main task should be to determine if the police were justified when they shot Sparks or not. That should chiefly hang on whether Sparks was a reasonable threat to the officers. If Sparks had his arms raised in surrender, then this might not be a justified shooting.
Two detectives are on administrative duty until Ryan’s investigation is complete, but they can rest easy knowing there won't be any real investigation despite the witness who called their version of the shooting into doubt.
Ryan held a joint press conference with the Chief of the Tewksbury police -- the department she is supposedly investigating. Ryan told reporters the reason officers shot Sparks was, “[Sparks] refused to follow the orders given to him by the detectives who had responded.” This statement would mean the shooting is justified.
Ryan’s determination that the shooting is justified was made without evidence and before any real investigation could have taken place. Once again Ryan is demonstrating an insurmountable bias towards police officers.
Ryan is the same DA who failed to even spell the names of the Lowell police officers involved in Alyssa Brame’s death in police custody correctly.