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Author Topic: When Less-Than becomes Lethal  (Read 1272 times)


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When Less-Than becomes Lethal
« on: September 20, 2005, 04:35:59 PM »

Six Boston Police Officers Disciplined for Fatal Shooting of Student Celebrating Red Sox Win by the ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOSTON (AP) -- Police officers involved in the fatal pellet gun shooting of a college student during Red Sox victory celebrations were suspended, demoted or reprimanded but will keep their jobs, Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole announced Friday.

Earlier this week the officers learned they won't face criminal charges in the death of 21-year-old Victoria Snelgrove, who was struck in the eye by a pepper-spray pellet fired by police trying to tame unruly crowds near Fenway Park last fall.

Officer Rochefort Milien, who fired the pellet that struck Snelgrove, agreed to a 90-day suspension for disciplinary charges he exercised unreasonable judgment and excessive force. Officer Samil Silta also accepted a 90-day suspension, on the same charges.

Superintendent James Claiborne, who was in charge of security that night, was demoted to captain. The department also suspended Sgt. Francis Flynn for 10 days for exercising unreasonable judgment.

The department's internal investigation concluded that Claiborne failed to create a proper plan for controlling the tens of thousands of fans who gathered near Fenway Park to celebrate the Red Sox' elimination of the New York Yankees from the playoffs last October.

The department issued written reprimands to Sgt. Harold Cataldo and Officer Thomas Gallagher, who was in charge of the equipment truck that contained the pellet guns. Cataldo and Gallagher didn't secure crime scene evidence.

''While this has been an extremely difficult period for everyone, particularly the Snelgrove family, the Boston Police Department has learned from its mistakes,'' O'Toole said in a statement.

Calls to the Snelgrove family and its attorney were not immediately returned.

Thomas Drechsler, attorney for Milien, Silta and Gallagher, also did not immediately return a call to comment. Drechsler has said that command staff made the decision to deploy weapons, and that his clients followed orders.

O'Toole had said earlier that ''we would consider everything up to and including dismissal.''

Milien, Silta, and Flynn can return to duty after serving half the days of their suspensions. The remaining days will be held in abeyance for one year and will be dismissed if they stay out of trouble.

Milien and Silta also were transferred out of the Special Operations Division.

An independent commission already has concluded that police made a series of mistakes leading up to the Oct. 21 death of Snelgrove, a broadcast journalism student at Emerson College.

That commission blamed Deputy Superintendent Robert O'Toole, who was the senior commander on the scene of Snelgrove's shooting on Lansdowne Street, for creating ''confusion in the field'' by handing out the pellet guns to uncertified officers and ordering them to use the weapons.

O'Toole also fired dozens of shots himself. But he retired earlier this year and was not subject to internal discipline. He is not related to the commissioner.

Silta fired his pellet gun as many as 12 times at one fan who approached him seeking medical help, the independent commission said.

Milien told investigators that he was aiming at a man who was throwing bottles at police, but the pellet struck Snelgrove.

The city paid the Snelgrove family a $5.1 million settlement in May.

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said Monday that no criminal charges would be filed against the officers.


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Re: When Less-Than becomes Lethal
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2005, 10:54:52 AM »

The officers made a bad decision and the one in charge should have not given pellet guns to untrained officers. What would have ended up with an arrest ended up with a loss of life. The 2 officers should have been fired and get charged with a higher offense. And their supervisor is the one responsible and should be the one paying for it too. It's all political.  If the victim was a minority, it would raise hell and the minority community would have pressured the courts to charge the officers and their superior. But since the victim was white, the city looks the other way. The extent and proof of the crime instead of race should be the factor in determining judgement. This is still some of the problems of the justice system. Some crooked officers get a slap in the wrist and some honest, tough officers end up behind bars.