State Trooper Linked to Racist Messages Has Been Suspended Without Pay

Matthew Sheehan, who had fired his rifle during a mass arrest involving ATV riders, reportedly posted violent comments on the site MassCops.

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A Massachusetts State Trooper who allegedly fired his rifle during a mass arrest last week has been suspended without pay after he was linked to racist and violent messages on a police message board.

The trooper, Matthew Sheehan, had been on leave after a Cape Verdean man was shot in the foot while police were rounding up and arresting men caught riding dirt bikes and ATVs on I-93. A report in the Boston Globe emerged shortly after the incident alleging that Sheehan had posted disturbing comments on the website MassCops over the past several years that were laced with racist slurs and seemed to fetishize violence against criminals.

“The State Police today ordered Trooper Matthew Sheehan suspended without pay indefinitely,” department spokesman Dave Procopio said in a statement. “As previously noted, the Department has opened an Internal Affairs case to determine whether Trooper Sheehan is the author of certain posts made to an online forum. The Department will take further action at the conclusion of the investigation if warranted.”

The Globe reported Thursday that Sheehan has been posting on the site under the pseudonym “Big Irish,” sharing his unvarnished opinions about several news articles that had been posted there.

In one 2012 post unearthed by the report, he opined that “There is no reason, no reason to ask twice to put down a weapon” before shooting an armed criminal. In another post from the same year, about a man killed in a police shooting, he allegedly wrote, “I guess this POS won’t be heading to the pols in November to vote and keep his EBT card,” adding, “I wonder when all of his Pastors/Reverends/Supporters from the 7th Church of the Tabernacle Coallation Crack Free Non Child Support Turn Your Life Around Free EBT Card Baby’s Momma’s None of Your Bidzness Rapper’s Delight Association will come out to the vigil????”

Procopio, the state police spokesman, condemned the comments. “The tone and content of the posts in question are offensive and are contrary to the standards of conduct expected by the State Police of its members,” Procopio said in a statement. Gov. Baker told reporters yesterday that if they could be credibly linked to the trooper, “he or she should be fired.” The Lawyers’ Committee for Economic Justice, in an open letter to the governor, also called for the trooper to be fired and requested that state police undergo “implicit bias and use of force training.”