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Gross throws Walsh under bus in White case

In advance of a court hearing tomorrow on whether to block Kim Janey's attempt to fire Commissioner-for-Two-Days Dennis White, both sides today submitted a flurry of documents. Among them, an affidavit on behalf of White by former Commissioner William Gross that says former Mayor Martin Walsh first learned of at least one of White's 1990s alleged domestic incidents in 2014.

In his filing, Gross wrote that in 2014, he, in his role as superintendent-in-chief, and then Commissioner William Evans went over applications from several BPD officers for promotions, including one for White, up for a promotion to deputy superintendent. This included pouring over internal-affairs files, which in White's case would have included the allegations involving attacks on his wife, also a BPD officer. Gross continued:

Evans and I looked at every candidate including their Internal Affairs ("IA") file.

The Mayor of Boston must approve any candidate to the Command Staff.

Once Evans and I had the candidates for promotion selected, they were presented to Mayor Martin Walsh, who was briefed on each candidate and their IA history.

There is no way anyone is brought onto the Command Staff without such a briefing to the mayor and approval by the Mayor.

The City, including Mayor Walsh, was aware no later than January 2014 of White's IA record.

In January of this year, Gross suddenly retired. In one of his last official acts before moving to Washington to become Secretary of Labor, Walsh then appointed White as the new permanent commissioner. Two days later, after the Globe reported on the 1999 allegations, Walsh suspended White pending an investigation by an outside law firm and named Gregory Long as acting commissioner.

At the time, WBUR reported:

Nick Martin, a Walsh spokesperson, said Thursday that before White was tapped to replace outgoing Commissioner William Gross, his vetting "admittedly should have been more thorough."

White filed his own affidavit, recounting his side of the whole issue, basically that he never attacked his wife and only acted in self defense when his niece attacked him in 1993. Unlike the city report, which does not name names, White named his wife in his account - and the officer he claims she was sleeping with at the time of the allegations, in part to deny an allegation that he took to sleeping with a gun under his pillow in case that officer showed up at his Dorchester home.

He also claims that not long after Janey called him Friday morning to let him know he'd be fired at 3 p.m., he got a call from Superintendent Nora Baston, Janey's pick to replace him.

She said the Acting Mayor had told her two days earlier that she was the Acting Mayor’s choice to be the next Commissioner. I wished Superintendent Baston well and the call ended. This call made it even more clear that the so-called “hearing” for me at 3:00 p.m. was a sham and the outcome was already decided.

He adds you just can't start investigating a commissioner after he's been appointed like that and no other candidate has even been subjected to such a detailed review, including Baston.

In a motion, the city argues that White failed to cooperate with the independent investigation, that he and his lawyer made numerous statements that are "not entirely accurate" over the course of the investigation, that the people of Boston deserved to have a commissioner they can trust on matters such as domestic violence and that should the court reject White's request for a preliminary injunction, Janey will give him his required termination hearing with 48 hours of advance notice - a lot more than required by state law.

The city's filing continues that Janey has more than adequate reasons to dump White as commissioner, based on the details in the outside report, and quotes from the letter Janey sent White explaining her reasons to do so, including:

It is particularly concerning that you failed to demonstrate an appreciation for the reasons for the public’s concerns about these incidents when you were assuming the leadership of the BPD. ...

At no time during the investigation into the earlier domestic violence allegations did you express any appreciation of the importance of domestic violence concerns to the public or how it might affect the public’s perception of the ability of the BPD to respond to incidents of domestic violence.Your approach to the concerns raised about the domestic violence allegations against you was consistently dismissive and uncooperative, which reflects poor judgment given your role as the leader of the BPD that is regularly called upon to address domestic violence in our community.

The filing then echoes Janey's reasons at the Friday press conference for ditching White:

Commissioner White's proposed injunction would put the City, even if temporarily,in an untenable situation–maintaining in office a Police Commissioner whom Acting Mayor Janey believes has repeatedly shown poor judgment, a lack of appreciation for matters of intense public concern, and a defiant, dismissive uncooperativeness with regard to the charges of domestic violence against him, the City's investigation into his past behavior, and his dealings with the Acting Mayor. Indeed, these and other factors have led Acting Mayor Janey to openly and legitimately question whether Commissioner White has the qualities necessary to lead the BPD going forward.

It would prevent the Acting Mayor from moving forward with her vision for the BPD as a public safety institution of integrity and accountability. It would erode the public's confidence in BPD leadership and its ability to lead by example and to appreciate and act on matters of utmost importance to Boston's citizenry, particularly the harms of domestic violence and sexual assault. It would undermine the confidence of the sworn police force and reinforce a culture of fear and the "blue wall of silence." It would continue the intense scrutiny on Commissioner White's past behavior at a time when Acting Mayor Janey must lead the City forward in its recovery,

The city brief was not written by the city's corporation counsel, which normally represents the city in legal cases. Instead, Janey hired Stoneman, Chandler & Miller, a downtown firm that also represented the School Committee in what turned out to be its successful defense of its replacement for exams for the city's exam schools for the coming school year. City attorneys will also represent Janey in court tomorrow, however.

Gross's affidavit (636k PDF).
Janey's motion to deny emergency injunction (1.5M PDF).
White's memo in support of an injunction (64k PDF).
White's affidavit and related documents (13.3M PDF).
White's amended complaint (8.9M PDF).

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Comments

I don't know, Adam, is it really throwing someone under the bus when all they did was give a statement, presumably truthfully, under oath as part of a legal proceeding? Isn't that exactly when there is an expectation you will tell the whole and absolute truth?

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Voting closed 109

Let's flip this around a bit - if White was in fact an abuser but you're willing to ignore that to get your buddy a sweet gig as chief of the BPD, you're also the guy that would easily lie under oath, no? I don't know Gross but he sure seems like a cop for cops guy vs. cop for public service and protection kind of guy.

Side note - a strong backer of Essaibi-George!

Quote from the Globe:

"There is no way anyone is brought onto the command staff without such a briefing to the mayor and approval by the mayor,” said Gross in his two-page affidavit. “The city, including Mayor Walsh, was aware no later than January 2014 of White’s IA [internal affairs] record.”

Say there's 'no way' is not the same as stating a fact. 'Aware not later than' is also some vagueness.

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Voting closed 65

Ah...I get it now...

The presumption of guilt.

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Voting closed 21

And, this is a surprise?

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Voting closed 42

Geoss must be trying to get ahead of what the dirty little secret behind his surprise retirement was.

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Voting closed 74

I wish her well as reporters search for any sin or scandal she was involved in dating back to when she was a girl scout.

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Voting closed 49

If they did the same comprehensive review of every officer as they did with White (after the fact), few would be promoted.

To put it another way, if Walsh gave White the top job, imagine what the reject pile must have looked like.

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Voting closed 61

Shouldn't have to dig too far. Rumors have been flying for years. Will be interesting if anyone is willing to put their names behind it.

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Voting closed 41

it may just be me but i cant link to any of those PDFs

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Voting closed 14

My apologies! I broke the HTML. Fixed.

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Voting closed 55

So Gross is saying they both knew about White's history of domestic violence? And they still both supported his middle of the night appointment for police chief without any kind of search?

I hope some enterprising local reporter is digging deeper into this whole mess, especially why Gross abruptly retired so Walsh could bring in White at the last minute, sorry so Gross could "spend more time with his family." If this was a Soprano's episode, we'd all understand what was going on.

Finally, worth noting top tier mayoral candidate Anissa Essaibi George is featuring Gross's endorsement as the top news item on her webpage.

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Voting closed 79

For White/Gross, while White was accused, he was not charged or penalized so therefore he was acquitted (not in the legal sense) of any guilt related to the allegation(s) of abuse. I.e. Gross is saying 'we told you about the accusation, which was shown to be actually nothing by BPD internal investigations'

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Voting closed 36

Temporary Permanent Commissioner White's main defense seems to be that it's no fair to come after him for something he's been getting away with for so long.

He has a point. It's like a six-year-old saying "the first five times I nailed the cat's tail to the floor, you said nothing, and now suddenly it's a big deal?"

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Voting closed 29

All of the other jobs White had were though, and the City would not have been able to "skip" him based on the domestic violence incidents in his past. I'm guessing Walsh didn't think things were different for this job either.

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Voting closed 42

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/05/19/metro/boston-police-sergeant-bria...

This guy has a terrible track record (spousal abuse, child abuse, wrongful arrest, excessive violence) but his dad was some kind of big shot with the BPD so he's still on the force.

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Voting closed 43

Judging from BPD and Mass police in general's history, I dont think he needed to have a dad in the force to get away with all these horrible offenses. Stealing, spousal abuse, child abuse, drunk driving, excessive force, etc. is all par for the course for cops in Mass, and many other parts of the US and the thin blue line protects them. Because so many of them have similar issues. Look at the state police overtime scandal- a few were punished, but Baker seemed unfazed so most were just moved around like pedophile priests. In exchange, Bakers son has never faced any consequences for sexually assaulting the woman on the plane. Cops and the politicians they fund take care of each other. Same with Walsh, we are seeing.

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Voting closed 41

White wasn't an outside hire. He was promoted from Deputy Superintendent. It is one thing to not let him become chief but to fire him is where the legal snafu comes from. I don't get the strategy. Perhaps it is the failure to cooperate with the recent investigation, but we need more explicit information on that. Why isn't there an option for him to return to DS or retire as a DS? This story is going to be incel ragebait for years and years.

I support the Mayor saying this is not an acceptable Commissioner for my city, but the prior administration led everyone to believe that White was a competent officer. If he goes along with the firing he has no job, no retirement and no prospects for working anywhere else. This forces him to go to court no matter what happened.

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Voting closed 42

He goes back to his Civil Service rank. Which is a Captain I believe.

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Voting closed 41

He goes back to his Civil Service rank. Which is a Captain I believe.

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Voting closed 29

It seems that Marty gave White's appointment the same thorough review and careful consideration that he gave the Olympics and Formula 1 racing bids.

I think we are fortunate he left before he could sign a contract for a monorail.

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Voting closed 56

... that they will send him back.

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Voting closed 18

If Thou should send him back unto us, let it be well after the election.
Amen

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Voting closed 16

Are the Boston tax payers footing the bill for Stoneman, Chandler & Miller to represent Acting Mayor Janey in this matter as well as the School Committee for replacement exams? Why can't the city attorneys do their jobs and represent the city in these matters? How much are they charging? What is Janey's connection to this firm? And if there is a connection can they be independent in their investigations?

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Voting closed 45

You are kidding right? The answer is yes, of course?

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Voting closed 50

Well, I'm no lawyer, but it would seem prudent to me to bring in outside counsel any time the executive office or chief executive of an organization, particularly a municipal government, is taking legal action in their official capacity, against a subordinate. These same lawyers would represent both the Office of the Mayor and the Office of the Police Commissioner in other matters involving parties outside of the city government, so that seems to me to be a conflict if one of these two parties used those lawyers to sue the other.

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Voting closed 41