Oct 12 2013

Three Boston police detectives reprimanded over Edwin Alemany case

Dr. Q

Earlier this year, a Boston police detective was demoted after it was discovered that he hadn’t arrested Edwin Alemany, who later went on to become the suspect in the Amy Lord murder.

Now, three more detectives have been subjected to disciplinary action for their roles in the case. The Boston Globe reports:

Boston police reprimanded three supervisors Friday involved in a prior case tied to the accused assailant in the slaying of a 24-year-old South Boston woman this summer, in a move that drew immediate fire from a minority officers advocacy group.

The supervisors were disciplined for their role in a 2012 case that led to the demotion of Boston police Detective Jerome Hall-Brewster because of his reported failure to follow up on evidence possibly linking suspect Edwin Alemany to an alleged assault. In July, about 10 months later, Alemany was arrested and charged with kidnapping Amy Lord in South Boston, killing her, and dumping her body in Hyde Park, sparking questions about why he was not held in the prior case.

The decision to issue a written reprimand to Lieutenant Detective Patrick Cullity and oral reprimands to Timothy Horan and Thomas O’Leary, both sergeant detectives, was met with anger from the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers.

Larry Ellison, president of the association, pointed out in a phone interview Friday that the three supervisors are white, but Hall-Brewster, who was demoted to patrol officer as a result of the 2012 case, is black.

“I’m beyond outraged,” said Ellison. “It’s a double standard here.” He added: “The supervisors got a slap on the wrist, and Detective Hall-Brewster lost his rating. The supervisors were supposed to be supervising. Why didn’t they lose their rating?”

The president of the detectives’ union could not be reached for comment.

Cheryl Fiandaca, a Police Department spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that the reprimands are documented in the supervisors’ internal affairs files. Those histories are “always part of any review for promotion and [are] taken into account for all future discipline,” Fiandaca said.

She referred a reporter to a department statement announcing the reprimands when asked about Ellison’s claim of a double standard.

That statement indicated that while Hall-Brewster was the subject of a “previous internal affairs matter where similarly he failed to properly ensure a thorough investigation,” his three supervisors have no “prior disciplinary histories with the department.”

At issue is a September 2012 case in which a woman was choked on a Roxbury street until she passed out. She regained consciousness holding a wallet with an identification card belonging to Alemany. Police also recovered a bottle and hat at the crime scene, which were sent for DNA testing.

Commissioner Edward F. Davis has said that Hall-Brewster was demoted for failing to properly follow up on the case. Davis said Alemany was never arrested because Hall-Brewster decided there was not enough probable cause to bring the case to a clerk magistrate.

Hall-Brewster is fighting his demotion, and a preliminary hearing with the state Division of Administrative Law Appeals is scheduled for Friday, said his attorney, Raffi Yessayan.

Jul 28 2013

Boston police may have been able to prevent the murder of Amy Lord

Dr. Q

After the horrific slaying of Amy Lord, a 24-year-old South Boston resident, the Boston Police Department has been forced to face the possibility that they may have prevented her kidnapping, robbery, and murder. It turns out that in 2012, the police were literally handed an opportunity to arrest Edwin Alemany, who is currently a “person of interest” in the murder investigation.

Yesterday, The Boston Herald reported:

A 21-year-old college coed who handed cops a golden opportunity last year to arrest the “person of interest” in the Amy Lord murder and the suspect in two nightstalker-style assaults on South Boston women says she’s dumbfounded that police never brought charges against Edwin Alemany — even after she grabbed his wallet and handed them his I.D.

The woman told the Herald yesterday it “blew my mind” when police said they couldn’t prosecute Alemany for her Sept. 28, 2012, assault — a vicious late-night beating in which she was slammed to the ground and choked unconscious, according to the police report.

“He said they weren’t going to prosecute,” the outraged victim told the Herald yesterday. “He said because there was no physical evidence to charge him with. It blew my mind. I was thinking, ‘If the police aren’t going to do anything about this, who is?’ ’’

She never saw his face — he attacked from behind, grabbed her throat and threw her to the ground — and could not provide a detailed description to police. She said she remembered not being sure if her attacker was black or Hispanic. After she came to, she said her pocketbook was gone and with it, all of her identification.

“He came out of nowhere. I remember trying to grab something out of his pockets,” she said. “Then I blacked out. I was out for 20 minutes.”

She said she handed the wallet to police, without giving it much thought.

The victim, whose name is being withheld by the Herald, said she spoke to police a few times following the attack.

“I never got follow-up,” she said. “Nothing.”

She said police finally got back to her yesterday, about 10 minutes before she spoke with the Herald.

Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said the detective — identified in the report as Jerome Hall-Brewster — is under investigation.

Davis told reporters yesterday he is “very disappointed in what the detective did in this case,” and that there was enough evidence to arrest Alemany, even though the victim gave only a vague description of her attacker. “Our standard is probable cause, and I believe that that detective had probable cause,” he said.

Normally I would not add incidents of failure to investigate or arrest someone to my police misconduct database, because, as strange as it might seem, police actually do not have a legal duty to arrest or protect anyone. However, in this case, the police commissioner has confirmed that the detective who apparently failed to arrest Alemany is under investigation, so I believe it would be appropriate to do so.

Update (7/29/2013): The Boston Globe has learned that Detective Jerome Hall-Brewster has been demoted to patrol officer for his failure to arrest Alemany. The Globe also obtained information about eight other complaints against Hall-Brewster.

A Boston police detective who failed to follow up on a September case tied involving a person of interest in the brutal abduction and murder of Amy Lord of South Boston last week has been demoted, police said.

Detective Jerome Hall-Brewster is losing his detective rating tomorrow as a result of the September case, according to a copy of a department Internal Affairs record that a police spokeswoman provided to the Globe.

The document did not indicate whether the demotion was permanent, but Cheryl Fiandaca, a police spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that Hall-Brewster is “no longer a detective” and that his new rank will be patrol officer.

Hall-Brewster’s record also shows that he was charged internally in a complaint stemming from an incident in November 2011, and the allegations have been sustained. Fiandaca would not provide details about that complaint, since the department has yet to decide on his punishment.

In addition, the department found in 2001 that he failed to properly report the non-lethal use of force during an incident and served 16 hours of work without pay. The document did not provide further details of that case, and Fiandaca did not respond to an inquiry about it.

Seven other complaints have been brought against Hall-Brewster but were not substantiated, the document shows.

Update (7/29/2013): Daniel Devoe reminded me (via Twitter) that Jerome Hall-Brewster was one of the defendants in the lawsuit Simon Glik filed after being arrested for recording police in 2007.