A state trooper acquitted last year on assault-and-battery charges for a 2018 fight outside Dorchester's Dorset Hall that left a woman with a broken leg is suing State Police for back pay and lost benefits for the 26 months he was on unpaid suspension after the fight.
Trooper Matthew Hickey of Dorchester was initially charged by Boston Police with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious injury for an incident outside Dorset Hall on Neponset Avenue on Dec. 1, 2018 while he was off duty - for the broken bone police say he gave a woman in a fight involving him, his girlfriend and another women. On March 8, 2021, however, a Suffolk Superior Court judge found him not guilty following a trial. Hickey said he was acting in self defense, that the other two women attacked him and his girlfriend.
In his suit, filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court, Hickey cites state laws that he says entitles him to the roughly $180,000 in lost wages and benefits from that period because he was found not guilty of the charges that led to his suspension, including one public-employee law that states:
If the criminal proceedings against the person suspended are terminated without a finding or verdict of guilty on any of the charges on which he was indicted, his suspension shall be forthwith removed, and he shall receive all compensation or salary due him for the period of his suspension, and the time of his suspension shall count in determining sick leave, vacation, seniority and other rights, and shall be counted as creditable service for purposes of retirement.
Hickey says he was suspended as a trooper not long after he was first formally charged in Dorchester court, initially with pay, but then without pay or health insurance for a total of 26 months. Following his acquittal, the lawsuit continues, State Police let him resume work but only on "restricted duty" for six months. State Police finally returned him to full duty in December, his complaint says.
Hickey's lawyer filed for payment of his lost wages and benefits on May 2, but he was denied.
Given the Superior Court’s exoneration of the criminal charges brought against Trooper Hickey, in conjunction with the Defendant’s failure to sustain the administrative charges, the Plaintiff avers that his suspension without pay was not justified. ...
The Defendant’s decision to deny Trooper Hickey compensation and employment benefits that he is lawfully entitled to was in "violation of constitutional provisions," "made upon unlawful procedure," "based upon errors of law," "unsupported by substantial evidence” and "arbitrary and capricious." G.L. c. 30A, § 14 (7).