The public is not able to see the WorcesterRead More
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After two years, the Worcester County District Attorney's Office still has not closed its investigation of the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Victor Davila. Davila was killed in Worcester two years ago yesterday when a state trooper who had been on the job for just three months fired a shot through the windshield of a stolen car he was driving. One year after the shooting occurred, the Telegram & Gazette reported that the district attorney's office still had not reached a conclusion on whether the shooting was justified:
The investigation remains open because a woman who was in the car at the time has refused to speak to state police detectives about what happened that morning at the intersection of Chandler and Irving streets, DA's office spokesman Paul Jarvey said.
"Up to this point, the investigation has determined that State Trooper Ryan Doyle was in fear for his life as the vehicle moved toward him, and he acted in self defense," Mr. Jarvey said. "There was no criminal responsibility on the part of the trooper, and the use of lethal force was justified under the circumstances."
However, some people who live in the area told reporters a different version of events the morning of the shooting.
Two witnesses said they saw the trooper standing in front of the car, a Honda Accord, as the driver tried to back up and flee. They said the trooper yelled repeatedly for the man to stop and then fired into the car when he did not comply.
The witnesses said that once the trooper opened the driver's door and pulled the man out, the car coasted forward into a small tree.
Trooper Doyle was returned to duty a few days after the shooting and remains assigned to the Holden Barracks, where he works the overnight shift, said state police spokesman David Procopio.
Mr. Davila's friends and family continue to believe the woman who was in the car, whom they know only as Yomaira, holds answers to what happened that morning.
"I want her to come forward and get this over with. We want justice, to find out why the person had to kill him," said Marie Carmona of Worcester, the mother of Mr. Davila's eldest daughter, 13-year-old Ashley.
Yesterday, the Worcester County District Attorney's Office confirmed that the case is still considered unresolved.
"That investigation of that has not been completed," said Tim Connolly, the Communications Director for the district attorney's office.
I think this shooting is a good example of why police departments should be requiring their officers to use cameras. If this shooting was captured on video, the truth about this shooting could have been determined in a few minutes, regardless of whether or not any witnesses came forward.
A majority of police departments have already equipped their police cruisers with dashboard-mounted cameras. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 61% of local police departments and 67% of sheriff’s departments used dashcams in 2007.
Last year, the state police confirmed in response to a public records request that they do not have cameras installed in any of their vehicles, but this wouldn't have made a difference in this particular case anyway. According to the Telegram, Doyle's cruiser was parked around the corner from where the shooting happened, so a dashcam wouldn't have recorded it.
What might have helped is if the state police used body cameras, which are still rare but are being used by an increasing number of police departments. These cameras are attached to an article of clothing, allowing police to record virtually everything the officer wearing it sees. If the state police had outfitted Doyle with a bodycam, the district attorney's office probably would have reached a conclusion in a matter of days, not years.
Last week, The MetroWest Daily News reported this disturbing story about a Worcester police officer who was arrested and charged with home invasion, assault and battery, breaking and entering, trespassing and threatening to commit a crime:
According to a police report filed in Westborough District Court on Thursday, the veteran Worcester Police officer went to his ex-wife’s Shady Lane home on June 17 and began banging on the door, yelling to be let in while yelling profanities.
The report said his ex-wife would not let him in, so Stout forced a kitchen window screen open and climbed through.
"According to (the ex-wife) her ex-husband was in his full Worcester Police Department uniform at the time he forced his way into her house and he did have his gun, which was holstered in his belt/waist area," the report said.
Stout then went to a bedroom, where he attacked his ex-wife’s "companion" by "grabbing him by the neck and punching him several times, striking him in the face and neck area," the report said.
Throughout the attack, Stout yelled "I will kill you," repeatedly. When the assault was over, Stout told the man he would "murder" him if the man was ever around Stout’s family again, the report said.
Despite the serious charges Stout is facing, the police department is still paying him:
Stout, who has been with the Worcester Police Department for 16 years, is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal police investigation, Worcester Police spokesman Sgt. Kerry F. Hazelhurst said.
We see this sort of thing all the time. Police officers are accused of misconduct or criminal behavior and the department they work for puts them on administrative leave, but continues to pay them their lucrative salaries (police are some of the highest paid government employees in Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and other communities).
In recent memory, Massachusetts police have been given paid leave while facing allegations including everything from multiple assaults and rapes, to drunken hit-and-run accidents, to stealing military-grade explosives.
This paid time off can last for months, and sometimes even years. For instance, during 2012 and 2013, a West Springfield police captain was on paid leave for almost two years at a salary of about $104,000 while under investigation for several allegations of misconduct, including allegations that he abused several people in his custody.
There is no reason that police who are taken off the job due to allegations of misconduct or criminal behavior should be allowed to continue drawing a paycheck at taxpayer expense. In the case of guilty officers, the public is literally being forced to fund paid vacations for criminals. In the case of the innocent, the public is still being forced to pay people who aren't doing anything to benefit them.
Neither outcome is fair.
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There have been several police shootings in Massachusetts over the past few days:
- On Thursday, a man was fatally shot by Salisury police after stabbing two people and attacking police with a machete.
- In a suspicious shooting on Thursday, a Holyoke police officer shot into an SUV during a traffic stop, but did not hit the driver or his passenger. The police would not say why the officer shot into the vehicle, but they did say that they did not find any weapons in the vehicle. The driver was arrested for driving with a suspended license while the passenger was not arrested. So far, there do not appear to be allegations that the driver or passenger attacked the police or did anything to warrant the shooting. The driver said police shot at him for no reason and has denied the charge against him. Police have claimed that the man is a gang member, which he also denies.
- On Friday, a man was shot and injured by Weymouth police after allegedly attacking them with a knife during a domestic dispute.
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