Officers injured on duty worry Mass. police reform bill goes too far

BOSTON — Two retired officers share their stories of survival after getting shot multiple times in the line of duty.

“We are tasked with making very difficult decisions in split second situations in very dangerous situations – that’s not easy for a human being to do,” said retired Officer Mario Oliveira, a former detective for the Somerville Police department.

In just a few seconds, Oliveira was shot six times in the chest and stomach while trying to arrest a man for trafficking guns to gangs in Boston in 2010.

“I died twice in the hospital, doctors were able to revive me several times and it’s been ten years of struggle,” said Oliveira. “I had a heart attack and stroke after.”

Oliveira co-founded the Violently Injured Police Officers organization with retired officer Bob DeNapoli, who was also shot six times while responding to a jewelry store robbery in Woburn in 2011.

“All of a sudden, I’m real low to the ground and bang, I get hit right here in the corner of my eye and it fractured everything in here,” said DeNapoli, who worked for the Woburn police department for 17 years. “The bullet, about 12 pieces, went into my eye and took my retina out.”

DeNapoli is now blind in his left eye and lost part of his finger from the shooting, which lasted about 10 seconds.

He still lives with it every day.

“Every day I open my eyes,” said DeNapoli.

After almost getting killed in the line of duty, these officers say they’re concerned with the police reform bill making its way through the state house right now.

The push for change comes after the death of George Floyd at the hands of an officer in Minneapolis.

“I haven’t met an officer yet who agrees with what he did, that was wrong, that was despicable we don’t condone it,” said Oliveira.

Oliveira says he does support reform in terms of police training, but he worries getting rid of ‘qualified immunity’ would put officers in danger.

“That is going to lead to officers hesitating to do their job, which in turn will get them possibly severely injured and killed,” said Oliveira.

DeNapoli agrees and says getting rid of ‘no-knock’ warrants will leave more bad guys on the streets.

He also doesn’t support banning chokeholds.

“A chokehold is a chokehold, it’s bad, but let me tell you something when you’re in the fight for your life and the only thing you have – because maybe the kid’s got your gun, but you got to hold the gun and choke him out before he kills you – what are you going to do?” said DeNapoli.

After suffering serious injuries from violent criminals, these officers hope state lawmakers take another look at the police reform bill before any sweeping changes are passed.

“I think it was done in haste and it’s not well thought out,” said Oliveira.