The mayor of Leominster today terminated a police officer who allegedly yelled a racial epithet at Red Sox player Carl Crawford during a minor league game in New Hampshire earlier this month.
Mayor Dean Mazzarella fired Officer John Perreault, effective immediately, saying Perreault’s actions were in violation of department rules and brought discredit upon the police department.
“As Mayor, it is my expectation that City employees of any department will never use racially-motivated statements against anyone, whether on-duty or off-duty. Your actions are so egregious that severe discipline is warranted. There is simply no place for your behavior in the workplace and there is no place for someone who exhibits such objectionable behavior in the Leominster Police Department, or any City Department, for that matter,” the mayor said in a letter sent to Perreault.
“After reviewing the testimony from the Chief and reviewing the documents submitted ... I have determined that the charges advanced by Chief Healey have been substantiated,” Mazzarella wrote.
Joseph Sandulli, Perreault’s attorney, said early this afternoon his client plans to appeal his termination.
“He is not a racist,” Sandulli said. “He meant that comment as a criticism of Carl Crawford’s play and not his race, and that’s why he chose to go through the process yesterday and wants to pursue the appeal.”
In a brief interview with the Globe, Mazzarella said he had hoped to hear Perreault share his side of the story during Thursday’s hearing. Perreault did not, and instead left his defense to his attorney.
Healey, who presented the allegations of misconduct, recommended Perreault’s firing, and Mazzarella ultimately agreed.
“When you’re a police officer, you’re held to a different standard,” Mazzarella told the Globe. “You represent the community on and off duty.”
The Leominster police launched a 10-day investigation earlier this month after receiving an anonymous tip that one of its officers had directed a racial epithet at Crawford during a July 5 minor league baseball game in Manchester, N.H. Crawford was on a rehabilitation assignment at the time with the AA Portland Sea Dogs, who were playing against the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
The investigation concluded that Perreault had indeed called Crawford a “Monday,” a word which can be used as either a general insult or a racial slur.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Chief Healey said he believed Perreault used the word as a racial slur. The chief also detailed other allegations of racially insensitive comments, including an incident in which Perreault allegedly told a black man wearing a Guinness shirt, “I didn’t know they serve Guinness in Africa.”
Sandulli said both the “Monday” and “Guinness” comments were misunderstandings, and that other witnesses to the comments did not interpret them as racist. The attorney also questioned the credibility of a written account of Perrault uttering a racial epithet in a Leominster bar.