If you know any judges, politicians or members of law enforcement, I beg you to bring the next few blogs to their attention. Perhaps, to the extent that they do not understand a fatal-yet-ignored issue in the Massachusetts criminal justice system, this will wake them up.
Oh yeah…all the rest of you civilians out there should read them too. After all, you are the truest victims of it.
Looking at the local news this past weekend made me feel like I had fallen into some kind of a time-warp and woke up in Deja-vu Land.
The news of our “leaders” in criminal justice seem to be in the same places and saying the same things as before…only the names and dates seem to have changed. it is perpetual Groundhog Day. Nevertheless, as criminal defense lawyers like me make the clarion call of corrupted prosecutions, unless we have instant fool-proof and court-admitted evidence…ye ol’ “smoking gun”…we are treated like Chicken Little yelling in vain that the sky is falling.
Well, keep it up, my superiors, and it will.
Let’s look at story one of our little mini-series.
I read in the Boston Herald Friday about the tale of Police Officer Zachary Crossen of the Boston Police Department (hereinafter, the “Officer”. The Officer is currently facing an investigation in connection with a civilian complaint. The officials are reviewing a civilian-recorded interaction involving the Officer.
It made the news and was on tape…so it could not be ignored.
Apparently, the Officer appeared to needle a resident (hereinafter, the “Resident”) he had stopped on the street with disparaging questions about whether he worked and whether the phone he had was his. He set the stage by sarcastically referring to Resident as a “contributor.”
The video is said to depict Resident walking up to an unmarked black police SUV that had been following him down a side street off Geneva Avenue in Dorchester as he was heading to a barbershop on Dorchester Avenue.
The Officer asks Resident, “You’re not Kevin by chance, are you?”
The Resident answered that he was not.
Unsatisfactory answer apparently.
What started as a simple conversation escalated when the Officer got out of the SUV, approached the Resident and continued asking for his name, where he lived and whether he was really going to a barbershop. Out of a concern for safety I’m sure, a second officer could also be seen getting out of the SUV.
The Resident asked, “So, what you stopping me for? You still ain’t tell me what you stopping me for.”
The Officer responded, “Your parents proud of you for flipping off the police?”
When the man started to walk away from the SUV, the Officer said, “Have a great day, contributor,” a remark the Resident said he took as a veiled insult about his employment status. In case there were any doubt however, the Officer followed up with, “What do you do for work? What do you do for work? Anything?”
The Resident finally answered that he did work and the Officer observed, “It’s noontime on a Thursday. What are you doing today?”
The Resident repeated that he was on the way to the barbershop and added that the cops had stopped the wrong person.
Nonplussed, the Officer responded, “Whose phone is that?” and then walked back to his SUV with another officer.
At some point, the Resident is said to have referred to the Officer as a “pig.” Not great judgment and, to the Officer’s credit, the Resident did not end up being a battered defendant facing Assault and Battery on a Police Officer charges.
In a statement to the Herald, a police spokesman said, “We are aware of the video and it is being reviewed to determine if any department rules or regulations were violated.”
Yeah I wonder if there are any “department rules or regulations” against bullying civilians…!
Right now, there is a push by many to stop gun violence. Let’s see if it produces any changes other than more guns in the school house. But this is another ticking time bomb that, if we continue to ignore it, will blow up in our collective face.
I have posted many blogs about the difficult work of a police officer and how frustrating it must be to serve when so many hate and/or fear you. I stand by those postings. There is another side to the coin that needs to be spoken, however.
“What, Sam, that police officers should not be rude to civilians?”
More than that, my friend. Much more than that. See you in Part Two.