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First test of police citizens' complaint process ends in dismissal

Posted by Your Town  June 3, 2010 08:55 AM

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After the complainant failed to show up for his appeal, the first full test of Brookline’s new process for hearing citizens' complaints against the police ended in a dismissal Tuesday night.

Under the new policy, adopted by the Board of Selectmen in July 2009 after lengthy public review and controversy, citizens who file complaints against police officers are accorded an internal investigation and can appeal its finding to the Board of Selectmen.

Tuesday was to feature the first such appeal: a man arrested for shoplifting in November alleged that the arresting officer had used excessive force in detaining him.

But the appellant, Patrick Corrigan, did not appear at his appeal before the board, so outside of his written statement, selectmen had only police reports and the police investigation—which included their records of two witness statements.

The police investigation concluded that the charges were “unfounded.”

By contrast, the department is pressing criminal charges against one of its own after a woman accused him of assault and battery, and had charged four of its officers allegedly involved in a March melee outside a bachelor party. The court recently found probable cause to go forward against two of the officers in the party case.

According to the police investigation, Corrigan was arrested Nov. 7, 2009 on charges of shoplifting, assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Corrigan states in his complaint that he was “set up” for the shoplifting charges by police and perhaps also the store owner and FBI; that the arresting officers kicked him while he was knocked to the ground, and that he suffered neck and back injuries.

Chief Daniel O’Leary told the board that Corrigan has made at least one other complaint about Brookline police conduct, and has filed roughly five complaints each against Boston and Cambridge police. He concludes in his memo to the board that Corrigan is not credible.

Four of the five selectmen voted to dismiss the appeal, citing the burden of the evidence before them. Selectman Kenneth Goldstein dissented, saying he preferred holding the matter in case Corrigan was unable to attend the appeal for medical reasons.

Andreae Downs can be reached at andreaedowns@yahoo.com.


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