Police officer cited for running down baby in Jamaica Plain

David Abel at the Globe buries the lead in this story about that August incident involving a police vehicle hitting a baby in a stroller at Centre Street and Seaverns Avenue in JP: The mother was cleared and the officer involved was issued a citation and banned from driving any police vehicle until after completing a driver's ed class.

Also, the mother got so sick of being blamed for the accident, she and her husband are now renting in Newton as they look for a place in the suburbs.

The article actually tells two stories: One is that of the poor woman and her baby, the other a rumination on the intersection of news, bloggers and victims. Both are interesting, and both show why we still need professional journalists (it was the reporter who interviewed the mother and filed the public-records request that showed the officer's punishment). But gosh, couldn't the Globe have reported earlier on the outcome of the case in an actual news story instead of burying the news at the bottom of a magazine piece - especially given all the online speculation and criticism of the initial Globe article?

Also, the article extensively quotes from the discussion here and on the JP Moms mailing list (and cites Bostonist, which broke the story in the first place). Would it be asking too much to provide links to the three?

UPDATE: The online version of the story now links to Universal Hub and Bostonist.

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The article is in the Boston

The article is in the Boston Sunday Magazine:

The same item got picked up the next morning by the more widely read Universal Hub blog, where less than an hour later, someone using the name Jchristian commented, "I have a one-year-old, and reading this, seriously, made me feel a bit ill for a minute. It's amazing how differently one feels about babies after having one - when it's not abstract anymore, the thought of one being truly hurt is a visceral experience."

SwirlyGrrl responded to Jchristian: "It is just somehow different when you can just imagine that moment where the stroller is being torn loose from your grip." Then Jchristian wrote: "Why is this story not reported yet anywhere else but Bostonist and here?"

Echoed Sheenaspleena: "I was wondering about that too. That's not right!" And on it went, with postings that bounced from indignation to curiosity to sympathy.

I like the article. Read it.

"The officer involved was issued a citation and banned from driving any police vehicle until after completing a driver's ed class."

We could discuss this as well.

From One "Echo Chamber" to Another

Abel also doesn't seem cognizant of the extent to which the speculation and rumor mongering on Boston's blogs might have been curtailed if a real journalist had, you know, laid out the facts of the case at the time of the incident rather than two months later.

Then someone using the name

Then someone using the name Kaz questioned Kumar's account. "The witness statement may be a tad more hyperbole than reality," Kaz wrote on Universal Hub. "We don't know since it seems that this didn't raise any red flags . . . [and] the mother (still unnamed to the public) hasn't made a press statement to make it known that this injustice was brought upon her child, or even who she is."

Yes, Kaz has a tendency to cast doubt on the accuracy of other people statements even when they were a witness and he was not.

To move on, the Giards have decided it's time to escape the city's busy streets - and to take a break from JP Moms and Universal Hub and the other blogs. The couple recently reached an agreement to sell their condo. They're renting in Newton, Giard says, while they look to buy somewhere in the suburbs.

"We're done with city life."

Context

At the time Kaz wrote that, all we basically had was the initial Bostonist and Globe stories.

Here's my beef with the magazine piece: The magazine has a longish lead time, so the author, a Globe news reporter, knew more facts about the case, facts that would have given all of us a much better understanding of what happened, and yet he held them for the magazine. The fact the officer was cited was certainly newsworthy, a) because of the criticism of the initial Globe story (in which an initial police report seemed to blame the mother) and b) because the reporter knew people were questioning the mother's account. I'd suggest he could have written a simple news story ("Officer cited in stroller accident" or somesuch) while still turning in a good magazine piece.

"Then someone using the name

"Then someone using the name Kaz questioned Kumar's account."

If the sentence is accurate, then Kaz very clearly questioned the accuracy in terms of hyperbole and reality of Kumar's statement. You say:

"At the time Kaz wrote that, all we basically had was the initial Bostonist and Globe stories."

Didn't we have Kumar's statement? I don't understand your point.

At least the officer was cited...

...determined to be the sole party at fault, and ordered to take a drivers' ed course. I still think he was let off easy but at least he didn't get off entirely home free. If the roles had been reversed - if the officer in the incident had been a civilian and the mom pushing the stroller had been an officer - the at-fault party would likely have been charged with reckless endangerment and assault and battery on a police officer in addition to being cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian.

True.

True. He essentially got a light slap on the wrist for a very serious incident. He was merely cited for "failing to yield to a pedestrian" - pretty much the lightest charge the BPD could have used. He was not even temporarily suspended from duty - he was merely temporarily barred from operating motor vehicles, and even that only lasted until he could take a drivers' ed course at the police academy, the course no doubt being a quick and easy milk run. Let's not forget he most likely did the course while he was "on duty" and hence was being paid while taking the course.

He was clearly negligent especially as he knew of the vehicle's blind spots. And the BPD has not compensated the mother for the incident, nor issued an official apology to the mother either in public or in private for the officer's conduct.

The BPD has arrested and charged civilians for assault and battery and reckless endangerment, among other charges, for far lesser incidents. Apparently, merely pushing an officer - not causing any harm or injury to the officer - can warrant an arrest and charges of resisting arrest (even when the person in question was not being placed under arrest when s/he pushed the officer), assault and battery on a police officer (assault and battery for a mere push?), and disrupting the peace, among other charges.

You're right NotWhitey, this should have gone to court. I respect police officers for what they do, but that doesn't mean they should be above the law. If anything, they should be punished more strictly than civilians if/when they violate the law, since they are the ones responsible for enforcing the laws and there is a presumption of trust that they will enforce the laws fairly and hold themselves to strictly obeying the laws they enforce.

...if the officer in the

...if the officer in the incident had been a civilian and the mom pushing the stroller had been an officer - the at-fault party would likely have been charged with reckless endangerment and assault and battery on a police officer in addition to being cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian

I agree. I think the police are incapable of disciplining their own with a measured and proportional consequence.

The citation and driving class is kind of an insult because it is not a real consequence for not paying attention and as a result endangering the life of a young person.

you can only say that

if you know that other drivers who injure people in a crosswalk in an accident are sent to jail or fined based on their driving records. If this cop had a horrible driving record, and it was covered up that is one thing.

So unless you have proff that other consequences are given in other instances, your point is moot.

wow, way to beat up on us, David.

Far as I remember, Kaz was the only one who questioned her here.

The vast majority of postings here and blog entries that I found in the 2-3 weeks afterwards were supportive, horrified at the incident, and pissed off at authorities for the clear coverup and the media for playing along. If JP Moms turned into a vicious catfight, that's not our damn problem. Funny to see that there are quotes from us, but none from JP Moms...

We were angry and incensed- but certainly not at her. There were a few satirical or sarcastic comments, but they were very clearly aimed at the modus operandi of Boston PD and Boston officials in general, who were busy blaming her.

We came to her defense. We were the loudest voice countering what some papers and Boston PD were saying. We (and the rest of the web-logging community) were probably at least partially responsible for getting the story more press. In the absence of the embarrassment of the limelight brought about at least in some part by our publicizing the incident, Boston PD would have swept this shit under the rug so fast it's not even funny. The officer certainly never would have been disciplined; after all, this is the city where cops shot an innocent bystander to death with pepperballs, left a kid to suffocate in handcuffs after he made a comment about them, and rammed a cruiser into a stopped car at an intersection so hard it obliterated the woman's Saab and killed her (responding to a "officer in trouble" call. After all, police lives > civilian lives) with token penalties all around. This is the city that hasn't had an officer murdered in over ten years, while civilians are murdered at a rate of 50+ a year (40 back in July).

Why are we getting so beat up in that writeup? It makes us sound like a bunch of dogs that linguistically assaulted a victim. Our fury was pretty squarely (and correctly) placed on the BLUE, who LINEd up right behind the report written by the cop involved. Notice there's no followup on whether the report was corrected? Or is it still in the Boston PD database as "civilian threw child at our cruiser"? And why did it take a FOIA request to get a copy of the report?

David has made some strange errors

The discussion "veered off in that direction for some time, as others chimed in about their issues with rogue pedestrians," David? Kaz made one "devil's advocate" type comment stating that we still didn't know the facts of the matter, and one person responded to him, stating "I was coming out of a restaurant on Centre Street and saw the flashing blue lights at the intersection in front of the Purple Cactus." Everybody else on the thread tried to find out more information, offered more information, or expressed outrage.

Nobody on UHub did what David Abel seems to have imagined. He's either got a deficit with reading or with citation. But, hey, even if his article is part fiction, at least he wrote an article about this incident. Because there is a big problem here.

You're right on this one, Brett. (Hard to believe I said that, eh?)

You all know that I usually give cops the benefit of the doubt, and some of you criticize me for it a lot. But PO Patrick Wayne Wood? Sorry, buster, you used up your doubt. Patrick Wayne Wood isn't a cop in my book, he's just a lying scumbag who belongs in jail, who just for now happens to have a badge he doesn't deserve. He assaulted an infant with his automobile and then lied about it on an official report. His lying on the official report demonstrates his lack of remorse. He abused his position to cover up his crime. He should be dismissed from the force and charged.

A police official read me the account from Wood's report, which said the Giards "walked into the path of the motor vehicle, at which point [the officer] locked up the brakes, and the vehicle stopped abruptly, brushing the baby carriage."

Says the man without honor. And then the truth of the matter?

But at the same time Giard watched as the bumper on the driver's side of the patrol wagon struck the stroller, flipping it several times, until the 8-pound Maclaren Volo landed on the far side of Seaverns, on top of Leo.

Giard ran to her son, struggled to unstrap him, and scooped him up. She wanted to hug him tight. She wanted to cover him with a blanket. She wanted someone to call an ambulance. There were cuts on his face and blood dripping from his forehead. He was hysterical, sobbing inconsolably.

He's goddamn lucky his victim was such a nice lady. Some people aren't so nice. Some people would have given him an eye for an eye. "Brushed" the baby carriage, he says. Hey, mind if I "brush" your neck a little bit, fella?

PO Patrick Wayne Wood, resign from the force. You are a disgrace as a police officer and as a man.

I largely agree Brett but I

I largely agree Brett but I am still interested in understanding the problem the victim (the mom) is referring to. Frankly, I don't trust David Abel to do a good job explaining it.

The Bostonian correctly identities the problem: Abel doesn't decide whether he's going to report on blog communications or the underlying story. As a result, bloggers are the bogeyman, the mom and her baby are the victims, and the policeman is off in driving school.

As I recall, the discussion on this blog was about how the BPD characterized the accident, that they did it in a way that minimized what really happened, and as a result concerns about how the BPD investigation of the incident would be handled.

I recall the context, that our reaction to this accident was heightened due to recent prior BPD incidents that we (some of us anyway) felt were brushed aside.

Much of the opposing viewpoint were posters who thought we were be too critical of police. Some of the comments were questioning witness accounts as vigorously as other commenters' theories and feelings. Abel seems to think that if a blogger or comment contributor posts it, it better be true. Sorry Abel. It doesn't work that way. People spend as much time posting their ideas and opinions as they do posting facts.

I'm glad Children's Hospital found no serious injuries. Mom was clearly and understandably traumatized by the accident - She doesn't put the baby in a stroller anymore, she carries him. If she hasn't already, she may want to seek help processing the trauma so that it doesn't control her. A lot of work has been done on trauma therapy, PSTD, etc. I'm sorry if I contributed to her anxiety in any way. I'd like to understand her concerns better.

I am disappointed in the consequence the policeman was subject to. He is just a guy trying to protect us but until there is a real consequence for doing one's job in a way the puts other people's health and welfare at risk, the BPD will continue business as usual, and frankly we deserve better.

Has anyone heard from Commissioner David on the David Woodman case? It's been four months.

If not, have they decided to put civil rights lawyers on duty when BPD takes to the streets to control mobs?

Two things

1) The author of a newspaper or magaine article is usually not responsible for the headline, but whoever came up with ...

"A distracted cop in a patrol wagon collides with a mom pushing her toddler in a stroller. But when local bloggers want answers, sometimes fact blurs with fiction."

... didn't do the story any favors. To the extent there was fiction -- i.e., the original police report -- it was the bloggers who publicized it. The blog and mailing list discussions that followed about whether Boston pedestrians in general are negligent were surely hurtful to the mother whose child was injured in this incident, but that's not blurring the facts of this incident, it's just being insensitive.

(The Kaz comment quoted in the article perhaps went a bit too far in speculating about why the mother had not made a public statement, but the rest of the comment is very explicit that people ought to reserve judgment and wait for facts to come out.)

2) I'm pretty sure the JP Moms list and its archives are not publicly available online, which explains why no link there.

I was horribly quoted out of context to make a story

After reading this tabloid journalism today, I'm seriously offended. I specifically stated in my quoted post:

I'm not defending the cop in this case (because we don't know what happened yet), but I'm pointing out that you [Brett], on the other hand, have already assigned yourself judge and jury on something where the facts were already stale before *any* of them were even known. You talk as if reporters can just magically find these things out and put them in the paper, but they've been given less than nothing to go on...36-48 hours after it happened.

My comments regarding the eyewitness testimony's credibility were made in response to the fact that the police statement (the only other real information made available to the public at the time) was being discredited by other commenters. I even *defended* the paper in its quest to gather more information to disseminate to us, the public, so that the truth of the matter could be told since we basically had 2 completely discrete viewpoints (he bumped the baby, he mauled the baby). In return for my defense of the news organizations, I get steamrolled by being quoted as leading some sort of mass action against a maligned mother! The writer confuses the two online conversations intentionally. The writer points to my comments and rhetorically responds to those words with a friend of the mothers with comments from a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WEBSITE/FORUM. I have never heard of JP Moms, never read a word there, nor had any idea the issue was being discussed outside of UHub at all! This statement made by the reporter is just an OUTRIGHT LIE:

It [Isabella's comment] was the first acknowledgment for all of the bloggers that their words were, in fact, being seen by the mother.

That is just outright disingenuous reporting! Furthermore, I was making a specific point as to the accuracy of a story when you have a police report that is such a polar opposite from the victim/eyewitness. In the case of what I referred to as the drunken news director fiasco at the airport, you had one account of a woman sexually harassed on a flight...and police accounts of how she was just raging drunk and even lashed out at the officers when they wanted to escort her away. Guess what? In *that* case, the police reports were the far more accurate story! My point is that having only the police report and a single witness interview means you don't have enough information to determine the truth of the matter as we sit here in our "echo chamber". As I say, I said we needed to wait for the reporters to gather more information on a story that got very little attention from the press at the time it actually occured!

In the end, this reporter sat on information (like the condition of the child after the incident and the response by emergency officials) that would have actually enabled me to determine whether my concerns with the eyewitness testimony were valid (in light of its conflict with the police statements, the only other piece of info available). This is why I used the vocabulary of "may be" and "we don't know"!

I actually spoke up FOR THE MEDIA asking for a reporter to get more info to the public and instead, I was railroaded MONTHS later by that very same reporter who SAT on the information instead of informing the public. That is just disgraceful for any news organization to withhold information on pertinent news at all...let alone to then use it as prequel to some kind of attack on the very people left in a lurch...who were actually asking for the reporters to do their job and get that kind of information to us!

Doesnt the pedestrian

have to make a claim before they would get any compensation? I would agree that the Boston Police should have issued an apology but it is up to the pedestrian/driver to seek compensation for damages from an accident.

And wheres the proof that the police would cite someone for an assault and battery if someone else were struck in a crosswalk? Gimme a break.

Yes, the victim's lawyer

Yes, the victim's lawyer would file a claim of damages in court and they would have to prove it unless the BPD settled. Medical costs won in an award would reimburse the families insurance company. Unless the child has permanent injury, I don't think they'd get much of an award. Plus I don;t think the mom wants to go through a court case.

What do you think about the consequence that the officer got? Do you think a citation and driving school is sufficient? too much? too little? Why?

I would agree...

...that the victim would need to file a claim in order to receive compensation.

If it were someone else who was accidentally struck? Consequences might be similar or more severe depending on the officer called to the scene. If it were an officer who was accidentally struck by a civilian who had no connections to the force? The civilian would be in for a world of hurt. No way would that person get off with a wrist-slap citation and a requirement to attend a driving course. I mean, seriously.

darksun

Ive been to court hundreds of times for similar instances. It is very rare to see anyone punished for an accident like this where there was no intent to injure or harm. Hell, most drunken drivers get community service and minimum fines for first offenses (well, for non-injury cases).

Let me tell you this, there is a 0% chance that your average citizen would be doing any jail time for something like this, or pay any fine over $500 or so.

I think you have to know the driver history of the driver in order to really make a fair opinion on what should happen here. For all we know this could have been the first accident/crash in the history of this officer.

I have read the article a couple of times

and do still have questions about
1. what accounts for the long time between the first "brief" story in the Globe and this sort-of detailed feature article

2. why there weren't follow-up stories about the fact that they hadn't been given all of the info by the police

3. whether the Globe is giving more weight to the idea that a. local online forums have been irresponsible or cruel to the mom or b. local forums helped keep awareness of their ordeal going.

Pretty sickening, imho.

The cop who hit the stroller and injured that baby should be charged with negligence and possibly either suspended from his job without pay for a period of time or dismissed permanently from the job.

indy

If that happened, you would see the jails filled with bad drivers. You really need to know the citation/sentencing history of MA drivers before you can come to a conclusion like that.

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