More than a dozen years after a man killed himself shortly after being freed from Waltham police custody, the Massachusetts Appeals Court has ruled the city is not responsible for his death even though officers released him without first notifying his relatives as they had requested.
The court’s decision today overturns a 2006 verdict issued by the Superior Court against the city that had awarded $100,000 to the father of James McCarthy, a Waltham man who took his own life in March 1997, one hour after he was freed by police from protective custody.
Lawyers for McCarthy’s father, Richard, who brought the case on behalf of his son’s estate, contend that police dispatchers repeatedly assured McCarthy’s aunt they would notify her before he was released so she could escort him home.
The city of Waltham had appealed that decision, arguing police never explicitly promised the family they’d call before letting McCarthy go, and that under state law, the city and its employees were immune from being held responsible for McCarthy’s actions once he left their care.
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