We spoke to one Worcester resident named Richard who told us that he came to the protest because he was concerned about several recent cases of alleged police misconduct. Richard said that he is a member of the Worcester branch of the group Socialist Alternative. "We stand with the working class and we also stand with the oppressed," he said.
Richard said he wanted Worcester to establish a citizen review board to provide independent oversight of the police. "In some cities and towns in America, they have panels that are democratically elected citizen oversight panels," he said. "When the police break the law, or misconduct, or some type of issue, they go before this citizen's board and they can review the case. This board has the authority to terminate, to discipline, and so on." Richard said that when police departments are responsible for investigating their own officers, some victims of police abuse might be too afraid to speak out.
In one recent police abuse case that Richard mentioned, Worcester Police Officer Rajat Sharda was charged with rape and witness intimidation after allegedly raping a woman last year while he was on duty. The woman said that Sharda told her that she "better not talk about this and if she did, he would find her, her children and her family." Sharda was placed on paid administrative leave by the department.
In a another recent case mentioned by Richard, Worcester Police Officer Robert A. Farrar was arrested in connection with a domestic disturbance and charged with assault and battery, aggravated assault and battery, assault, battery with a dangerous weapon (a belt), and unlawful possession of Percocet. Farrar was given paid leave by the department and was placed under house arrest. Later, prosecutors added four counts of rape and three counts of assault and battery to the charges Farrar was facing.
In a third recent case, Daisy Morales, a 62-year-old grandmother, said in a lawsuit that she was falsely arrested and subjected to racially motivated police brutality at the hands of Worcester Police Officer James Powers in February, 2013.
According to the lawsuit, Powers visited Morales' apartment three times in one day to investigate reports of a disturbance. Each time, Morales told the officer that there was no disturbance. During the third visit, when Morales tried to explain that there was no disturbance, Powers allegedly yelled at Morales to "shut the fuck up." Powers told her "I'm sick of dealing with you Latinos."
Sheila Alles, who was also present in the apartment, asked Powers "Why are you speaking to an elderly woman in that manner?" This enraged Power, who forcefully arrested Alles. She was later charged with disturbing the peace.
Morales accused Powers of police brutality, leading him to body slam her, shove her into a chair, spin her around, and handcuff her. According to the lawsuit, several of her bones were broken and she suffered "life-threatening, permanent injuries which have required extensive surgical procedures and ongoing physical therapy treatment."
Morales was charged with disturbing the peace, keeping a disorderly household, and resisting arrest. She was acquitted of all charges at trial.
In addition to the lawsuit from Daisy Morales, Worcester police are currently facing lawsuits from several other victims of police misconduct.
Worcester police face a lawsuit from Nga Truong, who spent three years in prison after she was framed by two Worcester police detectives for a murder that never even happened. After Truung's 13-month-old son died suddenly in 2008, she was arrested by Worcester police. Two detectives used coercive interrogation methods to force Truong, who was just 16-years-old at the time, into claiming that she smothered the baby to death. Truong was eventually freed from prison in 2011 after her lawyer was able to convince a judge to throw the confession out.
Worcester police also face a lawsuit from Ricky N. Eaves, who was falsely arrested on drug charges by Worcester police at a gas station in 2009. The report written by police was contradicted by video evidence from a nearby surveillance camera. Eaves spent 73 days in jail before prosecutors finally dropped the charges.
In the past, when the city has negotiated settlements with victims of police brutality, it has consistently refused to admit any wrongdoing and has insisted that it only settles cases out of convenience. The city has also insisted on including confidentiality clauses in settlements in order to prevent victims from speaking publicly about their cases.
In addition to being sued for brutality and false arrests, the Worcester Police Department has also been successfully sued twice by the Telegram & Gazette newspaper after refusing to comply which public records requests for Internal Affairs records about police officers and has wasted a great deal of taxpayer money in the process.
In a Facebook post, the protest organizer thanked the attendees and advised them to "Stay tuned for more."