Boston police investigating video showing off-duty cop restraining pedestrian after altercation at crosswalk
Passerby recorded veteran officer pinning man to the ground with his knee after his car was jabbed at with an umbrella.
Boston Police are investigating an alleged confrontation following a crosswalk altercation between an off-duty cop and a pedestrian near the Arlington T station which was recorded by a passerby and posted online.
The video of the confrontation, which happened around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, shows a man on the ground with another man wearing a Red Sox jersey pinning him down with his knee on his lower back. In the video, the man wearing the Red Sox jersey can be heard identifying himself as a Boston Police officer.
Stephen Harlowe uploaded the video to his Facebook account. It had been viewed more than 400,000 times as of Thursday afternoon.
Boston Police spokeswoiman Rachel McGuire confirmed Thursday that the man who identified himself as a city cop is a member of the force – a 46-year-old and a 20-year veteran officer.
The officer's name has not been released because of the ongoing investigation, she said, adding he has not been placed on leave.
"We have been made aware of this video and have launched an internal investigation," McGuire said, declining to elaborate.
Although the video does not show what caused the officer to restrain the pedestrian, the man on the ground is heard telling Harlowe that he tapped the officer's car with an umbrella after he was cut off crossing a nearby crosswalk. The pedestrian's name also has not been released.
State law generally gives the right of way to pedestrians when they are in a crosswalk.
The officer told other police who responded to the scene that the man was "crossing illegally," according to an incident report.
When the officer left his car to confront the man about tapping his car with the umbrella, the man allegedly took off running and was later tackled by the officer down the street. Harlowe also said the officer pused the pedestrian's head into the concrete twice after he'd been tackled and subdued.
The officer said the man “cracked” his window and ran away, but Harlowe described it as more of a “smudge.”
The mark was "able to be wiped from the surface of the glass," according to the incident report.
Police are interviewing witnesses to determine if the reaction was excessive, according to WCVB.
Commenterson Harlowe's Facebook postwere shocked by the video.
"Holy crap!" wrote one person.
Said another: "That's straight up abuse of power. Hope the victim got the name and number of all who witnessed this so that they can corroborate his story when he sues!!"
"This is horrible!" another commenter wrote. "That poor guy. I hope you exchanged info so he can access this video. Someone that hot headed & mean should def not have access to a gun, if he is truly a cop. What an ass."
This video of an off-duty cop in Boston is insane https://t.co/doqWnrRy5D— David L. Harris (@davharris) May 26, 2016
Off duty Boston cop doesn't know state pedestrian law. Arrests a guy for jay walking.— Al (@Crazy4RedSox) May 26, 2016
(Sent from https://t.co/2hoEpzXWLs)
The ACLU of Massachusetts has said the incident is a reminder of why police should be wearing body cameras. The department plans to outfit 100 officers with them sometime this year.
“This shows why Boston police need to join their colleagues in most other large cities in using body worn cameras,so neither members of the public nor the BPD would have torely onbystander videos to understand situations like this, and to protect people on both sides of the badge,” the ACLU wrote in a statement.
Below is the full incident report, with names redacted:
Officers responded to a radio call at Arlington St and Boylston St on Tuesday May 24, 2016. The officers met [redacted] and [redacted]. [redacted] stated that while making a right turn in his personal vehicle onto Arlington from Boylston, with the green signal, Mr [redacted] struck his vehicle's right rear driver's side window as he was crossing illegally. Mr [redacted] stated that while crossing the intersection, citing that [redacted] did have a green signal, he was upset that did not allow him to cross ahead of him and struck the window with his umbrella. A large vertical scratch was initially visible, but was able to be wiped from the surface of the glass. Officers spoke to a Ms [redacted] who stated she observed Mr [redacted] cross against the light and hit [redacted]'s vehicle.