Crime

Milton police officer to be criminally charged over alleged threats to Black teen over Black Lives Matter

“If you support Black Lives Matter, get the [expletive] out of my house,” the officer allegedly told the teen.

Milton police Officer Patricia Lio enters Dedham District Court wearing a cap for her hearing on Tuesday. A judge decided Lio should be charged criminally as a result of an off-duty incident during which she allegedly directed a rant about the Black Lives Matter movement at a Black teenager. David L Ryan/Globe Staff

A Dedham District Court assistant clerk magistrate ruled Thursday that a white Milton police officer will be criminally charged for allegedly threatening a Black teenager — a friend of her son — over his support for the Black Lives Matter movement while off-duty in September.

Patricia Lio, 52, is facing charges of assault to intimidate the 14-year-old boy and assault and battery on her husband, whom she allegedly attacked as he tried to de-escalate the situation, The Boston Globe reports.

“After consideration of the evidence put forth by the accused, I find that the witness testimony she presented does not disprove the evidence put forward by the Westwood Police,” Assistant Clerk Magistrate Beth Cook ruled Thursday, following testimony given Tuesday by Lio, one of her sons, her husband, and a Westwood police sergeant, according to the newspaper.

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Lio, who joined the department in 2002, has been on paid administrative leave since October. An internal affairs investigation remains ongoing.

In an email to the Globe, Milton police Deputy Chief James O’Neil said the department is “very concerned about the case” and that police have “zero tolerance for any bias behavior, domestic violence, or aggressive behavior towards children.”

“The department’s intent is to be as transparent and thorough in investigating this matter as possible,” he wrote.

What allegedly happened

On Sept. 19, 2020, Lio’s son held a sleepover at their Westwood home with two friends: the 14-year-old boy and a Hispanic teenager, according to the Globe.

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As the three friends watched a Celtic’s game, they heard Lio in another room criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement with expletives, according to police.

Lio, in her testimony, said her other son showed her a social media post from that same day posted by the 14-year-old that mentioned the nationwide push for cutting and re-allocating money from police budgets, the Globe reports.

Lio’s sons told the guests she “is scared for her life because of Black Lives Matter,” authorities said.

According to the Globe, Lio then approached the sleepover guests and asked the Hispanic teenager about his opinions on the movement and if his father, who is a Boston police officer, supports efforts to reduce police department funding.

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Lio’s husband then stepped in in an attempt to direct her away from the boys, the newspaper reports. Lio allegedly punched him the face and he started to bleed, according to police.

Lio then got in the face of the 14-year-old boy, clenched her fists, and cursed when talking about Black Lives Matter, the Globe reports. When the guest asked if she planned to hit him, she said no, according to police.

“If you support Black Lives Matter, get the [expletive] out of my house,” Lio told the teen, according to testimony by Westwood Police Sergeant Chris Aylward.

Lio’s husband got into a car with his son and the son’s two friends. Lio tried to get her son to leave the vehicle, but he did not listen, the son testified in court on Tuesday, the newspaper reports.

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As they left, Lio called the Hispanic teenager an immigrant and tried to get into the locked vehicle while banging on the windows, according to Aylward.

Her husband, Anthony Lio, testified she did not hit him and that the bleeding was caused by a cut on his nose he sustained while at work.

What Patricia Lio, her attorneys, and an attorney for the teenager say

Patricia Lio, in her testimony Tuesday, denied the allegations and said race was not part of the confrontation, according to the Globe.

“This has never been about race,” she said. “I don’t see people through race.”

Her attorney, Douglas Louison, said the matter didn’t warrant criminal charges.

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“She is a good police officer. She’s a good person and a good citizen,” he said. “She has no racial animus.”

Alfred Gray, Jr., an attorney who represents the family of the 14-year-old boy, said the teen did not pen the social media post.

Gray also pointed to Patricia Lio’s testimony that stated she believed the boy’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement was indicative that he supported violence against police.

“Nothing could be farther from the truth and her unprovoked behavior toward a teenager watching a Celtics game with her sons in her home is disturbing,” Gray said in a statement, the Globe reports.

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Gray also said the social media post did not advocate for violence.

He said his clients want Patricia Lio to be held accountable for her “outrageous behavior.”

The confrontation and everything that has ensued since have “by far been one of the most difficult situations we have been through,” the statement said.

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