Family of sergeant killed on the job push for new death penalty bill

Family of sergeant killed on the job push for new death penalty bill

BOSTON — As the death penalty debate is renewed on Beacon Hill, one local family made their voices heard on Tuesday.

Lawmakers in Beacon Hill heard from the family of fallen Sergeant Michael Chesna on the new legislation that would allow for killers of police officers to be given the death penalty.

During the hearing, Maryann Chesna, Sgt. Chesna's mother, was one of the proponents of the bill. Arguably one of the most moving and compelling testimonies came from Sgt. Chesna's widow, who was so overcome with emotion she cried through every word.

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"We are now under a total cloud of grief, every day we don't know where to go we don't know what to do we don't know where to look," said Maryann Chesna. "We're still looking for Mike."

Sgt. Chesna and a civilian, Vera Adams, were shot and killed in July 2018 by Emmanuel Lopes. The fatal double shooting happened just months after Sgt. Sean Gannon was also killed in the line of duty, while serving a warrant on the Cape.

Following the incidents, Massachusetts residents, outraged with the killings of two police officers, began pushing for the death penalty for those convicted of murdering police officers.

The new, controversial piece of legislation has won the support from multiple law enforcement agencies, according to State Representative Shaunna O'Connell (R), who filed similar legislation last year.

"We need to stand with law enforcement and send a strong message that we do not tolerate the murder of any of our law enforcement officers," said O'Connell.

Sgt. Chesna is one of the three police officers killed on the job since 2016. Chelsea Police Chief Brian Keyes says he's a proponent of the bill.

"How realistic is it that we could see this in the near future?" said Chief Keyes. "Great question, not too sure, I mean it’s, again we’re talking about the cost of someone’s life. I mean, I don’t know, I live in the state too, I understand the issue at hand. If anything, we’re shedding light on the issue, I hope the testimony of the families up here really had some impact."

Governor Baker has backed the idea when it comes to those who kill officers. However, the ACLU said it violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.