Saturday, 2:15 PM
Harvard police officer says she is a scapegoat in bias inquiry
By Tracy Jan, Globe Staff
A Harvard University police officer who faces possible disciplinary action over an incident involving a black teenager last month said she is being used as a scapegoat as the university tries to address accusations of racial profiling by campus police.
Theresa McAuliffe and a male colleague have been placed on paid administrative leave and could face termination pending the outcome of an investigation into their treatment of the Boston high school student while responding to a call of a suspected bike theft on Aug. 8.
McAuliffe, in an interview today at the Needham office of her lawyer, Timothy M. Burke, said she followed standard police procedure while confronting the young man, who was attempting to cut off the lock on the bike he owned because his key had broken. The student had a summer job on campus.
At the center of the investigation is whether McAuliffe pointed a gun at the student and whether the male officer berated him with a barrage of profanity.
McAuliffe said she never pointed her gun at the student and did not curse at him. She said she did not hear her partner use curse words.
"I was shocked. I felt bad. I just couldn't believe they were saying that we mishandled him, that we were mean, that we were cursing at him, that I stuck my gun in his face," said McAuliffe, recounting her meeting with a superviser four days after the incident. "I did not."
A spokeswoman for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, the police union representing the male officer, declined to comment on personnel matters in the midst of an ongoing investigation.
The student and his family declined to comment on the case.
Harvard, which oversees the private police force, launched an examination of the department last week following long-running complaints that officers have unfairly treated black students and professors.
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