Boston Police: We Didn’t Omit Racial Slurs About Officer’s Arrest
In a report posted to the Boston Police Department’s blog, the department failed to include details about one of their own off-duty officers using racial slurs after he was arrested for allegedly assaulting an Uber driver. But a lieutenant from the department told Boston that the information wasn’t omitted intentionally, and that the press release about the arrest only included information about charges being sought prior to the officer’s arraignment.
On Monday morning, Michael Doherty, a 16-year-veteran of the BPD, was arraigned in South Boston Municipal Court for assault and Civil Rights charges stemming from an incident over the weekend. He’s been placed on administrative leave from the force.
According to reports, which were first obtained by DigBoston late Sunday night, Doherty allegedly hit an Uber driver after he brought the officer to the wrong location during a trip early Sunday morning. A police report obtained by DigBoston said that Doherty allegedly called the driver a “s***” before the assault.
After being hit, the driver got out of the vehicle, according to the police report, and was chased by Doherty around the vehicle.
The report said that when the Uber driver tried to flag down people passing by for assistance, an African American man stopped to help. When the Uber driver walked away from his car and the officer, Doherty allegedly got in the victim’s vehicle and took off.
The report claims that the man who stopped to help the Uber driver then followed Doherty to Farragut Road, where the officer stopped the car. When Doherty exited the Uber driver’s stolen vehicle, he allegedly called the black man a “n*****,” and began “swinging at both parties.” Doherty made contact with the Uber driver, and knocked him to the ground, the report said. Doherty was later arrested after he was identified by his credit card information saved through the Uber app.
Boston made a call to the BPD’s communications office Monday, following Doherty’s arraignment, where it was announced that the officer was facing Civil Rights charges, and asked a spokesperson why the information about the racial slurs was left out of the press release posted to the department’s website.
Officer Rachel McGuire said because officers didn’t know what additional charges would be brought against Doherty, the information was not included.
“As far as the press release goes, it was put out last night. The way these things work, we put out what we have, and then additional information can come out at the arraignment. We put out what we have, and that’s what we have,” McGuire said. “We use what we believe is important information for the public…that’s what came out. Obviously it’s an important fact, but before the charges are brought, we don’t know what all of the charges are. We have to write the press release and summarize what happened as best we can.”
McGuire continued, “these things are not omitted on purpose” and that it could have been left out because of information sensitive to the investigation.
“It could have been oversight by the officer who wrote the press release. It does happen,” McGuire said. “I’m sure it was simply an oversight, and it’s unfortunate that was an important detail and we regret the oversight, but we are trying to be as transparent as possible.”
The full police report, which is available to the public, does not include Doherty’s name, but does include the use of racial slurs against the victim and the man who assisted him.
Boston Police Lt. Michael McCarthy said it wasn’t an omission of the facts, however.
“The complaints were amended this morning to include the Civil Rights violations…at the time the release went out, we thought it was important to get the information out as soon as we could, so based on what we had at the time is what went out,” he said of Doherty’s arrest on assault charges. “Last night we went off of what the head of Internal Affairs told me. We only put out what the charges were that were known at the time. That would be whatever we put up on BPD news was what was known at the time by us.”
Doherty, who was released on $500 bail, is expected to appear in court for a second time in March.