Boston’s MBTA travelers have been having a rough time over the past year. First were the disasters of the Winter of 2015. This was followed by other types of problems such as a runaway train and threats of fare hikes. A couple of days ago, there was the example of another type of T Disaster.

Someone apparently got angry and began to shoot at people. Two men were hit. Thankfully, the injuries were not life threatening.

This is not to say that the shootings were simply random or the typically touted “acts of terror”. They followed a fight.

Hence the explosive anger.

The Boston Herald tells us that the shooting took place at the Blue Line’s Maverick Station. Superintendent Richard Sullivan explains that the it happened at about 2:30 p.m. a couple of days ago and started on a Blue line train when the men began arguing.

Apparently, as the train was pulling into Maverick station in East Boston, the argument began its physical stage whereupon one of the men pulled out a gun and began shooting.

Several times. Two men were hit.

One man, 29-years-old, was shot on board the train while a 43-year-old was shot on the station platform.

Both men were taken to local hospitals where they are expected to survive.

Sullivan said there were about 15 people in the same train car as the gunman.
Police he said are using surveillance images as well as witness statements to find whoever it was that started shooting.

According to law enforcement, the gunman escaped.

Delays were reported on the Blue Line as a result of the shooting. Shuttle buses were used to transport passengers between the Airport and Bowdoin stations.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Identification Evidence

“Well, Sam, I guess this case is going to be easy to solve and convict, right? I mean, with all that identification evidence…!”

Not necessarily at all. In fact, this event took place a couple of days ago and, despite its being high profile, I have not heard of any arrest yet.

Many people figure that if there are one or more eyewitnesses to a case, then it is “open and shut”. This is often not the case.

“But, Sam, they even have a surveillance video tape”.

Yes they do. Have you ever seen the quality of some of those tapes? Not always so great.

“But what about the myriad of eyewitnesses at the scene?”

It’s a funny thing about eyewitnesses…especially to an unexpected and exciting event like a shooting. Especially when there is a “myriad”.

They often disagree as to what they saw.

I know that prosecutors like to hold their eyewitnesses up to the pinnacle of reliability when a case is brought to court. However, assuming that eyewitness testimony is unimpeachable is not correct.

“You mean because of tricky criminal defense lawyers like you?”

No. I mean because of the multitudes of experiments and studies that tell us that fact. “Tricky criminal defense lawyers” like me merely utilize such findings and, sometimes, are even able to demonstrate them in open court.

Eyewitness identifications are not simple things. From pre-conceived notions to adopted “observations” based on wording and suggesting by investigators to human fallacy. I know that this is inconvenient when it comes to prosecuting cases like this, but it is the case.

“Well, surely the men who were shot will be able to identify their shooter.”

Maybe. However, they are going to bring their own set of complications. First, we have no idea whether the men all knew each other or what set off the argument in the first place.

There could be built-in credibility issues with these men depending on their own baggage, not to mention a motive to want to punish whoever shot them.

“Well, wouldn’t that be understandable?”

Absolutely. However, a good “tricky criminal defense lawyer” like me will certainly want to explore those aspects and how they relate to the witness identification.

That is, if there is one.

“What do you mean?”

There is no word yet as to the cooperation or statements of the men shot. We do not know what they are and are not willing to tell the authorities. These may be two men innocently going on their way to wherever, or there may be something more to it.

Should there be a suspect/defendant in this matter, his attorney, however “tricky”, needs to explore all this and make whatever use of it he/she can.

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