A press release from Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley: No Charges for Officers in RCC Campus Arrest
IMPARTIAL REVIEW INCLUDED CONSULTATION WITH INDEPENDENT EXPERT
BOSTON, Sept. 16, 2011—Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley today announced that his office would not seek criminal charges against any of the Boston Police and Department of Youth Services officers who arrested a then-16-year-old escapee on the campus of Roxbury Community College last year.
“After a comprehensive examination of all the evidence in this case … I have determined that the arresting officers did not use excessive force or engage in any actions that constitute criminal conduct,” Conley wrote in findings delivered today to Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis and copied to Department of Youth Services Commissioner Jane Tewksbury.
As part of the investigation, senior prosecutors within Conley’s office consulted with Gregory Connor, an independent expert on the use of force and now-retired professor emeritus of the University of Illinois Police Training Institute. An author of eight books on force utilization techniques, Connor helped create the Municipal Police Training Committee use of force model employed by police academies across the country. He has provided opinion testimony both for and against police officers in criminal and civil litigation.
“It is my opinion that I saw nothing in the myriad of reviewed incident related materials rising to the level of excessive and therefore illegal force utilization,” Connor told prosecutors after his own study of the evidence.
The 6’1”, 165 lb., suspect – whose name is not being released because he was 16 at the time of the incident – was resistant and assaultive toward the officers when they tried to serve multiple arrest warrants on him at Roxbury Community College on the afternoon of Oct. 22, 2010. Citing the use of force guidelines used in Boston and across the country, Conley noted that the officers used only their hands and knees when they could reasonably have employed their batons or, in some jurisdictions, a TASER. The arrest took place within a small, fully-enclosed vestibule, precluding the use of department-issued chemical sprays.
Part of the arrest was captured on video by two civilian witnesses. In forming their recommendations, senior prosecutors from Conley’s office reviewed that video; the recorded statements of 30 civilian and police witnesses; Boston Police rules, regulations, and training materials; and the juvenile’s medical records, which show that he sustained a cut to his forehead, a bump above his eye, and an abrasion beneath his hair, all sustained when he was taken to the floor during the arrest. The cut required only four stitches and he was treated with ice and Motrin with no complaints of any other injuries.
The investigation established that two Boston Police officers and one DYS apprehension officer approached the suspect, who was not an RCC student, at about 2:30 that afternoon as he walked through a campus administration building. When they attempted to remove his backpack and place him in handcuffs, he began to resist, grabbing hold of one end of the cuffs while an officer held the other end. The two struggled and the juvenile struck another officer just above the eye. The officers then brought the juvenile to the ground, where he struck his head on the grated floor.
“At the point at which [the suspect] was prone on the ground and struggling with the officers, he had not yet been searched for weapons,” Conley wrote in his findings. “Moreover, his backpack, which was within his reach, had not yet been examined. It was, therefore, entirely reasonable for the involved officers to fear for their safety as [the suspect] might have been armed with a weapon within his reach.”
Additional officers responded to the arrest team’s request for assistance. The evidence, including the video clips, established that the suspect continued to resist being handcuffed and would not allow his hands to be brought out from underneath his chest. One officer used a series of blows delivered from a shorter distance than a traditional punch as a distraction technique. The suspect continued to resist.
As more officers responded to a call for assistance, others took part in the arrest as well. Conley noted that one of them delivered a series of compliance and distraction strikes to the juvenile’s leg, lower back, left side, and rib area. Though many of these strikes were ineffective, they were all consistent with the officers’ training. They were delivered as the suspect refused to bring his hands out from under his torso and even kicked one officer off of his legs. Only one officer at a time employed strikes or blows.
The suspect “assaulted officers during a lawful arrest and remained actively resistant when they attempted to take him into custody,” Conley wrote. These officers had a justified and reasonable fear that [the suspect] could have been armed with a weapon. The officers used a level of force proportional to [the suspect’s] resistance and within Boston Police training and that of other police agencies nationwide. Therefore, no criminal charges against any police officers are warranted in connection with this case.”
Conley met with a group of civic and religious leaders to explain and discuss his decision earlier today.
The suspect is charged with a variety of offenses stemming from the incident, including resisting arrest and possession of a Class D substance with intent to distribute. He will return to the Boston Juvenile Court on Sept. 28.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
One Bulfinch Place, Suite 300
Boston, Massachusetts 02114-2921
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.