Oct 17 2013

Making a public records request at the Massachusetts State Police HQ

Dr. Q

On October 11, a Massachusetts state trooper shot two unarmed men at a traffic stop in Medford. The state police have claimed that the driver, a 19-year-old man, attempted to hit the state trooper with his vehicle. The driver has been charged with numerous crimes including assault with a dangerous weapon. No allegations of wrongdoing have been made against the passenger. So far, the only evidence presented to the public that either of the shooting victims did anything wrong is the word of the very state trooper who shot them.

There’s a fairly easy way to tell whether or not the trooper is telling the truth about the shooting incident. Many police departments install dashboard cameras (dashcams for short) in their patrol cruisers. These cameras create objective records of traffic stops made by police and are therefore the perfect way to determine whether or not police have acted appropriately. If the Massachusetts State Police use dashcams, the videos recorded by them would allow us to see for ourselves whether the state police acted appropriately during shooting incidents like the one in Medford or another recent incident where a state trooper killed a mentally ill man who allegedly attacked him with a pen.

I’m actually not sure if the Massachusetts State Police use dashcams. Many police departments don’t use them at all. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 61% of local police departments and 67% of sheriff’s departments used dashcams in 2007. Myong Joun, a Boston-based attorney who specializes in police misconduct, told me it’s his understanding that the state police only have dashcams installed in certain unmarked vehicles, not their standard marked vehicles.

Nevertheless, I decided to make a public records request to determine if a dashcam was installed in the vehicle of the state trooper who shot the two people in Medford and to obtain a video of the shooting if it exists. Under the Massachusetts public records statute, all records kept by local and state government agencies must be provided to members of the public upon request unless they fall under certain exemptions. Government agencies are required to respond to a request within 10 days either by agreeing to disclose the records or by denying the request and explaining which exemption the records fall under.

I decided to submit my request in person at the Massachusetts State Police Headquarters which is located in Framingham. On October 15, KT of MassOps accompanied me to the State Police HQ and we both recorded the visit with our cellphones so we would have an objective record of what happened. I would recommend bringing a camera along to anyone who decides to make public records request to a police department or any government agency at all in person. The video can serve as proof that the request was made and, if the video is posted online, what date it was made on.

When we arrived at the State Police HQ, I spoke to Steve Lane at the front desk and told him that I wanted to submit a public records request. He walked off, grabbed a form, passed it to me, and told me I needed to fill it out to make a request.

Under the public records law, a government agency cannot require a person to use a specific form to make a records request. A simple letter is considered a legitimate public records request and government agencies are obliged to accept and comply with such requests. In fact, records requests can even be made verbally with no written request at all. According to “A Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law,” a document published by the Secretary of the Commonwealth:

A written request is not required but is recommended. An oral request made in person (not by telephone) is permitted…

There is no specific form that must be used to request records, nor is there any language that must be included in such a request. A records custodian may provide a form, but cannot demand that the form be used.

I had already typed up my request and didn’t feel like wasting my time rewriting an almost page-long letter by hand for no reason, so I informed Lane that I had already written out my request and that he could not require me to use the form. He immediately became angry and accused me of “trying to cause a problem.” He then told me that he would get someone else to help me.

While I waited, I looked over the form that Lane had handed me. He had actually given me a form for requesting a crash report from the Registry of Motor Vehicles which means that the form wasn’t even relevant to the records I was trying to request. I pointed this out to Lane, but he insisted that I still had to fill it out.

Lane also expressed hostility toward the fact that KT and I were recording him.

Soon, I was greeted by Sergeant McGilvry. I told him that I was trying to make a records request. He told me that even though I was already present at the State Police HQ, I would need to mail my request in which is not true. When I insisted on submitting the request in person multiple times, McGilvry finally told me he would make a phone call to determine if he could accept my request. Before he walked off, he told me that I needed to “just grow up” because he was upset about the fact that I was recording him.

A couple minutes later, McGilvry came out a second time and accepted my letter without offering an apology for the incorrect information he had given me.

Although the public records statute has its flaws, it is one of the most important tools in our state for ensuring that police departments and other government agencies are transparent to the public. It’s incredibly disappointing, to say the least, that employees working at the main office for the largest police department in the state are so ignorant about the public records statute and treat people who make public records requests with such hostility even though they are required by law to accept and comply with them.

If I was treated like this by the employees of a private company, I’d probably choose to never do business with that company again. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with the government, taking your business elsewhere isn’t an option.

I’ll post an update as soon as I’ve gotten a response to my records request from the state police.

Here’s the full text of my public records request:

To whom it may concern,

This is a request under the Massachusetts Public Records Law (M. G. L. Chapter 66, Section 10) for records from the Massachusetts State Police. As you may be aware, the Public Records Law requires you to provide me with a written response within 10 calendar days. If you cannot comply with my request, you are statutorily required to provide an explanation in writing.

I would like to know if the Massachusetts State Police use dashboard cameras (or dashcams) which are video cameras that can be mounted in cars. I would like copies of any policy documents related to dashcams.

A state trooper was involved in a shooting incident in Medford on October 11. According to news reports, the trooper shot two men during a traffic stop after the driver allegedly tried to hit him with his vehicle. If the trooper involved in the shooting had a dashcam installed in his cruiser, I would like a copy of the video and audio of the traffic stop and shooting incident as well as the events leading up to it. I would also like dashcam videos with audio from any other state police vehicles that were present at the scene of the shooting. I would also like copies of any police reports, notes, and other documentation of the shooting.

It is my understanding that the shooting incident in Medford is currently the subject of an ongoing investigation. As you may be aware, there is an exemption to the public records law for information related to ongoing investigations by law enforcement, however, be aware that this exemption only applies to a record if it can be shown that releasing the record to the public would prejudice the results of the investigation.

If you withold a record under any exemption at all, I expect you to specify which exemptions you are citing and to articulate why the exemption applies to the record in question. If you withold any records under the investigatory exemption, I would still like copies of the records after the investigation is complete. Please take steps to ensure that you do not destroy any records I have requested.

Please provide a list of all documents that my request applies to as soon as possible. I recognize that you may charge reasonable costs for copies, as well as for personnel time needed to comply with this request. If you expect costs to exceed $10.00, please provide a detailed fee estimate. I would appreciate it if you waived any fees associated with the fulfillment of this request as I believe the release of these documents is in the public interest.

I appreciate you taking time to read over and consider this public records request. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Note that when I typed up my request, I wrote that the shooting happened on October 15 which was the date I was submitting the request, not the date of the shooting. I realized my error while in the parking lot of the State Police HQ and crossed out the 15 with a pen and wrote in 11 which is the correct date.

Sep 28 2013

Lawyer accuses Ashland police of trying to cover up party with fireworks

Dr. Q

The MetroWest Daily News reports:

The police department altered records to cover up a fireworks party this summer attended by off-duty as well as on-duty officers, attorney Joseph Hennessey alleges in a letter sent last week to the police chief and town manager.

Hennessey has demanded the department investigate.

Chief Steven Doherty Monday said Lt. David Beaudoin is doing just that.

“Upon receipt of his concerns relative to the storage of records, I asked that that be investigated,” Doherty said.

The allegations Hennessey makes in his Sept. 16 letter stem from records he obtained through a public records request about a July 6, 2013 noise complaint. Hennessey obtained recordings of two 911 calls and a copy of the log from that day. The log he provided to the News does not contain any reference to the 911 calls.

“There was a purposeful intent by someone within the Ashland Police to alter the records that were provided to me,” he wrote.

The records he requested have to do with an alleged party on July 6, 2013, at the Endicott Road home of the parents of Ashland Police Officer Michael Dionne. The chief said Officer Dionne was in Maine on July 6.

In the first 911 call, a copy of which was provided to the News by Hennessey, a neighbor tells a dispatcher that people at the Dionne home are setting off very loud fireworks. Fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts. In the second call, the dispatcher tells the neighbor a police car is on its way to that home.

Hennessey said three people, whose names he would not disclose, told him Ashland police officers attended the party. There is no mention of officers at the party in the 911 calls.

Hennessey, a former Ashland police officer, said he also requested a copy of reports produced about the incident and radio transmissions between the station and cruisers and received nothing.

Hennessey accuses Lt. Richard Briggs of failing to comply with the records request, failing to write a report, failing to seize fireworks and ignoring his duties as a supervisor.

“Again this administration turned their heads to on-going criminal activity and gross violations of the department rules and regulations,” the letter says.

The 911 calls are marked with the incident number 13-7936. The police log, however, skips from 13-7935 to 13-7937. There are frequently incident numbers missing from the Ashland log.

Doherty said it will take a while to investigate who has power to delete log entries and if that occurred.

Doherty said Hennessey has made “dozens” of public records requests lately, which can become tedious to fulfill.

“He makes it sound like a personal attack but in fact these are static documents but they are technical in nature and it will take a while to get them,” he said.

Hennessey, who is a friend of outsted Police Chief Scott Rohmer, represents Edward Pomponio, an Ashland sergeant named in several lawsuits as a co-defendant with Rohmer and Beaudoin. Hennessey also represented Andrew Stigliano, the Ashland man police shot and killed in July.

Hennessey said he also sent the letter to the FBI, Middlesex District Attorney’s office and the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office.

I think fireworks should be legal, but the police should also be subjected to the same laws as everyone else.

Jul 27 2013

Prisoner sues Boston police for documents that may help prove his innocence

Dr. Q

Just a few days ago, I wrote about the difficulties people face trying to access police records under the state Public Records Law. Yesterday, Open Media Boston published a story about a man who has apparently been forced to sue the Boston police to access records which he believes will help establish that he is innocent of a 1981 murder that he was convicted of.

Mark Jones is still claiming his innocence for his part in the Roxbury shooting death of Brian Cropper in 1981 when he was aged just 19 years old.

Jones has filed a lawsuit seeking the release of information that he believes could exonerate him and also is claiming that he received poor legal representation in his case.

Incarcerated at Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Shirley, the complaint dated July 12, 2013 was filed at the US District Court in Boston.

It alleges that, “More than 30 years later, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office continues to withhold substantial exculpatory evidence from Jones to conceal the fact that [they] convicted an innocent poor black youth, who was economically and socially disadvantaged, with subpar legal representation.”

It is claimed that Mark Jones was walking with his friend, Frank Webb, towards the Dudley Square area of Roxbury, when the young men got into a fight with the victim, Brian Cropper, over some neck chains belonging to Jones.

The complaint alleges that immediately following the fight, Cropper chased after Jones and Webb with a machete when he was shot to death by Webb.

They both fled the scene, but turned themselves in several days later after which Jones was charged as an adult for murder, and Webb, then 16, was charged as a juvenile also for murder.

Since July, 2011 Jones has been seeking records held by the Boston Police Department (BPD) relating to his case.

Following multiple requests, unanswered appeals to the Secretary of State, and a failed motion filed in Suffolk Superior Court, the complaint claims that the BPD has only released some of the documents Jones is seeking.

Included in those redacted documents are details it is claimed that the police interviewed key eyewitnesses that said Cropper chased after Jones and Webb with a machete, and that Webb was identified as the shooter.

None of the investigative information in these documents was ever released to Jones the complaint claims.

Make sure you read the entire story. It’s part of Open Media Boston’s new Open Court Project which OMB describes as “our effort to help fill the large and growing vacuum in news coverage of significant court proceedings in the Boston area.”

Jul 24 2013

The high cost of obtaining police misconduct records in Massachusetts

Dr. Q

The Telegram & Gazette, a Worcester-based newspaper, recently published an article about a state trooper with a history of receiving citizen complaints because of his behavior (see here for more details). The Telegram & Gazette was able to access the complaint records because of the Massachusetts Public Records Law, a statute that allows anyone to request copies of all kinds of records from local and state government agencies.

When you hear the term “public records,” you might imagine that these documents are freely accessible to any members of the public who request them. In reality, getting copies of public records often carries enormous costs.

In theory, the government must make a good faith attempt to respond to public records requests within 10 days and the fees they charge must be reasonable. In practice, government agencies are often able to get away with wrongfully delaying the release of time sensitive information, using loopholes to charge exorbitant amounts of money for records, illegally destroying public records before they can be copied, and even flat out ignoring requests as The Boston Globe reported in a 2009 article titled “High costs can make open records seem closed.” There are no consequences for failing to comply with the public records law. A government employee who breaks this law cannot be fined or charged with a crime.

Police departments typically justify fees by pointing out that they must redact certain information from records. There are certain types of information that police are allowed or required to redact before they can release records to the public. For instance, if police released a complaint, they might have to redact identifying information about the complainant to protect his or her privacy. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with redacting certain information, but it becomes a problem when it makes fees so high that the cost of obtaining records is too much for many people to afford.

I asked Thomas Caywood, the author of the Telegram & Gazette story, how much the newspaper was charged for the complaint records. He told me that the Telegram “paid $800 up front based on [the] state police estimate, but [the] actual cost was a couple of hundred less.” The state police eventually refunded the difference, but that means the paper was still charged $600 for the records. The Telegram obtained about 60 pages of documents, so the paper was charged about $10 per page.

In 2008, the Telegram & Gazette became involved in a lengthy public records dispute with the Worcester Police Department. After the Telegram published an article about Worcester police officer Mark Rojas shooting a family’s pet dog to death, the paper began receiving numerous letters from readers who said they had also been abused by the officer. In April, 2008, the Telegram & Gazette sent the police a public records request for Rojas’s entire internal affairs file.

The police department charged the paper $1,500, money which it quickly accepted, but it did not release the more than 1,500 pages of documents until December. When the documents were released, they were heavily redacted to the point that “776 pages contained little or no information,” according to the Telegram & Gazette. In one case, the police had literally blacked out an entire page.

To get access to the remaining 700+ pages of Rojas’s internal affairs file, the Telegram & Gazette was forced to sue the police department. Though these documents are public records, Worcester bureaucrats spent taxpayer money to defend the city against the lawsuit and keep them secret. A judge ultimately ruled that their reasons for withholding the information were “clearly without merit.” It took more than two years from the initial public records request before the Telegram & Gazette was finally able to get copies of the remaining pages.

Those pages contained some of the most disturbing information about Officer Rojas which might explain why the Worcester Police Department was so desperate to conceal them from the public (read more about this story here).

I also have some experience requesting police misconduct information. In 2011, I was contacted by a student at UMass Lowell who had been threatened by a campus police officer for video-recording the police as they broke up a fight. The officer approached the student and yelled at him to “Shut that fucking thing off before I slap you!” When I brought the incident to the attention of the campus police chief, he launched an investigation that eventually resulted in the officer being disciplined.

I made a public records request to get a copy of the report of the investigation. I was told that I would have to pay $245 dollars in fees for what I was told was a 20-page report (it was actually 19 pages) — more than $10 per page. I was unable to spare the money, so I asked readers of my site to donate it to me. Three generous individuals stepped up the the plate and I was able to get the report released, scan it, and post it on my website. If they hadn’t, the only copy of the report would probably be sitting in a filing cabinet in the HR department of UMass Lowell and never seen by the public.

I have had other negative experiences trying to obtain police records. In one case, I tried to obtain some documents from the Fitchburg Police Department. After my first request was completely ignored, I sent a second letter on July 25, 2011. That time, I received a three sentence boilerplate letter signed by Officer Brian Rouleau, the head of the Records Department. The letter claimed that a “severe shortage in staff” prevented the department from considering my request right away, but that it would be looked into at an unspecified time in the future.

I gave the police the benefit of the doubt and waited a reasonable amount of time in the hope that they would send a follow-up letter that answered my request. After giving the police more than a month, I called the Records Division on September, 5, but could not reach Officer Rouleau, so I left a message on his voicemail asking him to call back. He returned my call the following day and told me that my request would be looked over by Captain Linda Swears, but that Captain Swears was on vacation and would not be able to respond to my request until September 12. Captain Swears never called me.

I called Officer Rouleau back on September 13. When I told him that Swears never contacted me, he told me that he would look into the request himself. Officer Rouleau called me back later that day and told me that he found the documents I was seeking and spoke with City Attorney Mike Ciota about my request. Ciota reportedly told Rouleau that the documents I was seeking fell under a C.O.R.I. exemption and could not be released. Two days later, I received a second letter which reiterated what Officer Rouleau told me over the phone.

In the age of the internet, this is simply inexcusable. We should not have to send requests or pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fees to potentially hostile police departments in order to access their records, especially those dealing with misconduct. Our tax dollars already pay for the creation and maintenance of these records. We should not have to pay twice. Police departments should be required to post this information to the internet in easily navigable databases in a timely manner and there should be serious consequences for departments that do not comply.

The government is funded with the public’s tax dollars, so it must be as transparent to the public as possible so that we may hold it accountable. This is especially true when it comes to the police, one of the most extraordinarily powerful institutions in our society. The police can search and seize our property, issue fines, use force (including deadly force), and lock people in jail. Their courtroom testimony can turn people into felons, strip them of many of their basic rights, and send them to prison. They have special legal privileges that make it harder to convict them of crimes or sue them.

Police are simply too powerful to be allowed to operate in the dark. They should not be allowed to hide their records behind a wall of fees, delays, and other impediments.

Jan 25 2012

Report describes investigation of abusive UMass Lowell officer

Dr. Q

In October of last year, UMass Lowell student Brendan Brown was threatened by a campus police officer for video-recording a group of police officers who were responding to a fight that had taken place outside an apartment. Brown was approached by UMass Lowell Police Officer Noberto Melendez who told him to “Shut that fucking thing off before I slap you.” Brown decided he’d rather not be arrested, so he left the area, but he did upload his video to YouTube and later shared it on my Facebook wall.

After I saw the video, I brought it to the attention of Police Chief Randolph Brashears. Chief Brashears subsequently launched an investigation which resulted allegations of misconduct being sustained against Officer Melendez. As you may remember, I was able to get the University to agree to disclose their investigation report by making a public records request, however, the University told me I needed to pay a $235 fee to have a copy made. Luckily, some generous Cop Block readers donated the money.

After I sent in the money to the University, they engaged in a long and unlawful delay before sending the documents out to me. On January 6, about 3 weeks after the University received my payment, I still had not received the report, so I called to complain. I contacted Jack Giarusso, the head of Human Resources at UMass Lowell, and asked him why it was taking so long for the documents to be mailed to me. He told me that he was just about to send them out. I pointed out to him that he was violating the law because the Massachusetts Public Records Law requires that records custodians comply with requests within 10 days without any unreasonable delays and it had already been more than a month. Giarusso gave me an excuse about how he hadn’t been able to mail the records on time because he had to move to a different office, but I told him that the Public Records Law does not mention this as a legitimate reason for taking so long to comply with a request.

I finally received a copy of the investigation about a week later. Unfortunately, I’ve been having problems with my scanner, so I wasn’t able to scan the report until several days ago when I found time to go to the local public library. You can find a copy of the report at the bottom of this post.

I don’t want to discuss everything about the report in detail. After all, you can read the entire thing yourself. But there are a few aspects of the report that I wanted to draw some attention to.

One of the first sections of the report describes how Chief Brashears interviewed Officer Noberto Melendez, the police officer who threatened Brendan Brown. Chief Brashears describes how he called Officer Melendez to his office and advised him that he could have a union representative there to officer guidance. Melendez returned with an Officer Soucey. According to the report:

Officer Soucy asked if there were any criminal charges being considered against Officer Melendez and if so would “Garrity Rights” be used. I advised both of them that there criminal charges are not being considered in this incident but to ease their concern I advised that nothing said during this process could be used against Officer Melendez in any criminal proceedings.

So, we learn here that criminal charges were never considered against Officer Melendez. It didn’t matter that Officer Melendez threatened to physically assault Brendan Brown. It didn’t matter that he deprived Brown of his constitutional right to observe and record police activity. Criminal charges were just never even on the table. But what do you expect when cops are “investigated” by other cops?

Next, Chief Brashears informed Melendez that he watched Brown’s YouTube video and asked him to describe what happened that night from his own perspective. Officer Melendez told Brashears that he was responding to a call from other officers. When he arrived at the scene, he witnessed a large crowd.

Officer Melendez states that when he got out of his cruiser he immediately tried to move the crowds by giving commands to leave the area. Officer Melendez stated that he could hear the sirens of the Lowell police department’s cruisers that were responding to this incident.

Officer Melendez stated that it was at this point that “I became very frustrated” because of the lack of response from the crowd. I observed the subject videotaping the event; he was standing on the sidewalk. I went over to him and stated, “Turn that fucking thing off before I slap you”, he further states that “I never had any intention to strike the person but was only trying to get this persons attention; I then immediately went over to another crowd down the street to disperse them”.

The above quote is where Melendez offers a ridiculous explanation for his thuggish behavior. Melended was just trying to get Brown’s attention, so he threatened to assault him? Huh? Usually when I’m trying to get a stranger’s attention, I opt for an “excuse me, sir” or something along those lines. If the roles were reversed — if Brown had threatened to assault Melendez — would he buy the “I was just trying to get his attention” excuse?

And if Officer Melendez was trying to get Brown’s attention, why did he walk away “immediately” (his own word choice) after threatening him without saying anything else? What was he trying to get Brown’s attention for? Apparently nothing.

Let’s read on:

Officer Melendez stated that he regrets saying what he said to the student and knows that some type of discipline will result from this incident. He further said that this is not at all like him, that he always treats the students and public with respect. Officer Melendez further stated that he remembers the Chief either talking about this type of issue or remembers an email from the Chief. Officer Melendez realizes that the public has the right to videotape police activity and that he has no excuse for his behavior, but didn’t remember if this was covered in in-service training.

The above passage is worth taking notice of because it shows that Officer Melendez was already aware that people have the right to video-record the police. There was no confusion about the law on his part. He was not only acting unlawfully, he knew damn well that he was acting unlawfully.

And yet, even though Officer Melendez admitted to knowingly breaking the law, he expects us to believe “this is not at all like him, that he always treats the students and public with respect.” Officer Melendez will have have to forgive me for being skeptical.

At the end of the investigation, Deputy Police Chief Dickerson writes that he sustained all the allegations against Officer Melendez. This means Melendez was found to have used profane and abusive language, engaged in conduct unbecoming of an officer, and violated the civil rights of Brendan Brown.

Unfortunately, we still do not know what punishment Melendez has been subjected to for his behavior. As I explained in an earlier post, the University claims that information is confidential and has refused to disclose it to me. I have exchanged several emails with Deirdre Heatwole, the lawyer who represents the University of Massachusetts system, but I have been unable to convince her to release the information and do not think that I will ever be able to.

In any case, I want to again thank the donors who helped get this report released. I think it’s important that information like this is available to the public and I think it’s a crime that the government makes us jump through so many hoops to get it.

Documents (.pdf format)

Jan 9 2012

News Roundup for the New Year

Dr. Q

As I said toward the end of last year, I will now be posting weekly news roundups. Instead of trying to write detailed articles about every police misconduct and police accountability-related story I come across, I will post links on the Massachusetts Cop Block Facebook and Twitter pages and make a weekly post that includes brief summaries of all the stories I found during the past week. Currently, I plan to post a news roundup every Monday.

First, here are a few stories from late last year:

  • The Lowell Sun reports that Vesna Nuon, who was just elected to the Lowell City Council, accepted a $50,000 settlement from the city. Nuon was suing the city over a 2008 incident in which Lowell Police Officer Brian Kinney allegedly arrested him on a bogus “disorderly conduct” charge after he threatened to call Kinney’s supervisor and complain about his unprofessional behavior. As part of the settlement, Kinney must also apologize to Nuon.
  • WGGB-TV reports that Spingfield Police Officer Rafael Nazario has been charged with rape and indecent assault and battery after allegedly raping an 18-year-old woman.
  • The Sun Chronicle reports that cocaine and other drugs have gone missing from the Attleboro Police Department’s evidence room. Police Chief Kyle Heagney said he suspects that a cop is responsible and has launched an investigation. The Boston Herald reports that Heagney wishes he could drug test the officers in his department, but their union contract bars him from doing so.

And here the the first Massachusetts police misconduct and police accountability-related stories of the new year:

  • The Boston Herald reports that state trooper John Bergeron shot a woman while hunting. The state police have described the incident as an accident, but Environmental Police are still investigating.
  • WBZ-TV reports that Charlton police terrified a 5-year-old girl when they sent an officer to collect her overdue library books. Seems like a colossal overreaction, not to mention a waste of police resources. As one person who shared the story with me sarcastically commented, “All other crimes have been solved!”
  • The Boston Herald reports that the FBI has arrested state police officer John M. Analetto on extortion charges. Analetto has been accused of lending an FBI informant money in exchange for a piece of his business and threatening to murder the informant multiple times.
  • Boston.com reports that black box data disclosed by the state police shows Lt. Governor Tim Murray was driving 100 MPH and not wearing his seatbelt when he totaled his taxpayer-funded car during the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Both Murray and the state police previously said accident was caused by black ice, but the release of the black box data have forced them to revise their story. They both now claim that Murray probably fell asleep at the wheel. Previously, the state police refused to release the black box data to the public even though they are required to by the Massachusetts Public Records Law, however, they finally released the data when Murray asked them to. Murray will be issued a $555 traffic citation.
  • The Cape Cod Times reports that a judge ruled that Sandwich police violated a teen football player’s rights when they interrogated him without offering to record the interrogation.
  • The Enterprise reports that former Brockton police lieutenant Charles Lincoln has been jailed for failing to make alimony payments to his ex-wife. Lincoln, now retired, became infamous when he called out sick more than 100 times in three years so he could work a second job as the head of a county jail and amass a huge pension. Lincoln has collected his $140,000 a year pension at taxpayer expense since 2004.
  • Lastly, a man uploaded a YouTube video a few days ago which apparently depicts Haverhill police searching his home. The man frantically tells the camera that the police have entered his home without cause and assaulted him. At the end of the video, the police notice they are on camera and threaten to arrest the man for recording him. While I can’t confirm the man’s version of events, I will say that police have no right to arrest people for openly recording them. This man may want to consult a lawyer.

Remember, if you have a story or question you’d like to share with Massachusetts Cop Block, drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or send us a message using our contact page.