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Revere chief testifies about officer’s death

Defense quizzes him on alcohol policies

By Maria Cramer
Globe Staff / January 28, 2010

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The last time Revere Police Chief Terence K. Reardon saw Daniel Talbot alive, the patrolman was propped up in a hospital bed, attached to a life support machine.

Talbot was unconscious, unable to breathe on his own, and lying in the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. His fiancee, Constance Bethell, sat by his side, clutching his hand.

At one point, Talbot’s body twitched, giving Bethell momentary hope.

“She thought he was going to wake up or something,’’ Reardon said, his deep voice growing slightly hoarse. “Wasn’t going to happen.’’

Reardon, who took the stand in Suffolk Superior Court yesterday, was the last witness in the trial of 22-year-old Robert Iacoviello, who prosecutors said opened fire on Talbot and a group of other off-duty officers as they were drinking beer in a field behind Revere High School in September 2007. Talbot, who was struck above his eye, died hours later.

Reardon has been police chief in Revere for nine years. He grew emotional only once during his 90 minutes on the stand, as he recounted the last time he saw his officer, shortly after the shooting.

But he faced sharp questions from Iacoviello’s lawyer, Peter Krupp, about public drinking and drinking while driving by Revere police officers the night Talbot was shot.

“Is it in compliance with Revere Police Department policy for officers to drink while driving?’’ Krupp asked.

“No, sir,’’ Reardon replied.

“Is it in compliance with Revere Police Department policy for officers to drink behind a high school?’’ the lawyer asked.

“No, sir.’’

Reardon remained calm, even laughing amiably at times. It was only when Assistant District Attorney Edmond Zabin asked him to describe those last minutes in the hospital that his demeanor changed.

“It’s like reliving a tragedy,’’ Reardon said in an interview following his testimony.

Before Talbot was shot, the 30-year-old officer; his best friend, Officer William Soto; and Evan Franklin, then a Revere police sergeant, had engaged in a long night of drinking that began in Soto’s truck, according to testimony by Franklin. Soto, Talbot, and Franklin cracked open beers as they headed to a restaurant in Revere, Franklin said.

At the restaurant, the trio met Bethell and another off-duty officer and drank shots of liquor and more beer before heading to Revere High School, where the drinking continued, according to testimony at the trial.

Prosecutors said that 17-year-old Derek Lodie walked by the group behind the school. Talbot began taunting the teenager, an alleged gang member, with gang signals and insults, prosecutors said.

Lodie left the field, but returned with at least three other people, and the shooting began.

Police charged Iacoviello with murder in allegedly firing the gun that killed Talbot. They also charged Lodie and James Heang, 19, as accessories to murder. Lodie has already been sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to being an accessory; Heang is being tried with Iacoviello.

Krupp has tried to undercut the prosecution’s case by raising the possibility that the officers, who never identified themselves, started shooting first, and by pointing out that one of the officers initially identified Lodie as the shooter.

Under questioning, Reardon, who was subpoenaed by the defense, said he did not include his conversations with Soto that night in his final report about the incident, and he acknowledged that he had misidentified the officer to whom he had handed one of the guns found at the scene. But Reardon said State Police were the main investigators.

Reardon said that after the shooting, Franklin, who ran from the scene and never called police, was fired. Soto and the other officer with Talbot that night, Stacy Bruzzese, were forced to work five days without pay because they had been drinking in public, though Reardon acknowledged they were able to earn back their lost pay by taking weekend shifts.

In an interview after he testified, Reardon said he had not heard Franklin’s testimony that, in addition to drinking in public, Soto also had been drinking while driving that night. But the chief said he did not intend to punish Soto further.

“He lost his best friend,’’ Reardon said.

Talbot “literally bled out in his arms,’’ the chief said. “Anything I could do with him would be a waste of time. He already will be punished for the rest of his life.’’

Maria Cramer can be reached at mcramer@globe.com.