Boston Police Sgt. placed on leave after body camera video released from night of protests

BOSTON — One Boston Police sergeant has been placed on administrative leave hours after body camera footage was released showing Boston Police officers pepper-spraying and allegedly assaulting people during the George Floyd protests earlier this year.

BPD Commissioner William Gross released a statement on the issue shortly after 10:30 p.m. Friday.

“As soon as these videos were brought to my attention, I immediately ordered my Bureau of Professional Standards to open and conduct a thorough and fair investigation into this matter, and the totality of circumstances involved. I have placed a Sergeant involved in this incident on administrative leave and I will take any additional action as necessary at the conclusion of the investigation. I want to encourage people to bring these matters to our attention so that we can investigate them appropriately.”

—  Boston Police Commissioner William Gross

WARNING: The footage may be difficult for some viewers.

The defense attorney who released the videos says they were turned over by the district attorney. It was part of the legal process for the people arrested that night. His team looked through almost three days’ worth of body cam videos and found the footage quoted as “more force than necessary” from Mayor Walsh and “troubling” from DA Rollins.

The protesters gathered on May 31 in response to the death of George Floyd, at the hands of police.

Things got out of hand this night, fires started, businesses looted, and several people were hurt and arrested.

Defense attorney Carlton Williams hopes these videos will be all the proof his clients need to be released. They face charges ranging from disorderly conduct to assault and battery.

“A supervisor who supposed to be telling the other people to do things the right way bragging about hitting people with his vehicle,” said Williams. “So at the best of all possible worlds, he’s just a person who is lying. At the worst of all possible worlds, he committed many counts of assault and battery with a police car.”

He’s referring to footage of an officer with a body cam who turned away from the apparent sergeant and told him his camera turned on somehow. That sergeant’s story then changes tone.

Boston 25 News asked former Boston Police Chief Daniel Linksey how do we handle situations like this so the trust is not eroded in the public’s eye. He said first it’s about prevention, it’s training, it’s supervision.

“The very trust that BPD is struggling to get back has been further undermined by that snippet of videotape, but before we can make a decision as to what should happen, we owe it to all involved to get all of the information in the facts and then let those decision-makers make an informed decision.”

There is an investigation underway. Commissioner Gross says the Bureau of Professional Standards will look into the circumstances during those protests and there may be more action other than the Sergeant placed on leave.

“I’ve had clients held on bail for doing things like that,” Williams said. “I want BPD body cam video to be easily available to the community and for the DA to keep a list of problem officers and make that available to defense attorneys.”

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