A Suffolk County grand jury today indicted a Transit Police officer on assault and battery and civil-rights charges for allegedly using his baton to repeatedly beating a homeless man at the Ashmont T stop - and charged two Transit Police sergeants for conspiring with the cop to try to cover up the attack, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office and Transit Police announced.
It's the second time in five years a Transit cop has been charged with beating somebody with a baton and then lying about it. In the earlier case, an officer was convicted of beating a woman at the Roxbury Crossing bus stop in 2014.
In today's indictments, Dorston Bartlett, 65, of Lynn, who retired as a Transit officer during the investigation, was formally charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and violating a person’s civil rights, the DA's office and Transit Police say.
Bartlett and sergeants David Finnerty, 43, of Rutland, and Sgt. Kenny Orcel, 55, of Chelmsford, who were his supervisors at the time, were charged with making a false report as a public officer or employee. Finnerty and Orcel were also charged as accessories after the fact to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Authorities charge that early on July 27, 2018, Bartlett not only beat a 32-year-old homeless man, he arrested him on a charge of assault and battery on a police officer.
In support of that charge, Finnerty allegedly drafted a report that was submitted by Bartlett and ultimately approved by Orcel. Later the same morning, a member of the Transit Police command staff learned of Bartlett’s use of force and reviewed both a preliminary draft of that report and video from public safety cameras at Ashmont station. Based on his observations, he ordered the victim released from custody, charges did not issue, and the criminal investigation was launched.
As part of the investigation, the two supervisors were placed on leave.
The three are scheduled for arraignment on the charges on March 27.
In statements, DA Rachael Rollins and Transit Police Chief Kenneth Green both expressed their disgust:
The conduct alleged in these indictments is unacceptable at every level. The charges reflect an unprovoked armed assault by a uniformed officer on a vulnerable member of our community, followed by a joint venture with supervising officers to cover up that crime. Actions like these undermine the hard work of countless honest, professional police officers and seriously erode trust in law enforcement. Crimes against public integrity are some of the most important that my office can bring on behalf of victims and our community, and I take them extremely seriously.
Words cannot express the extreme disappointment I have in the officers who violated the victim and the public’s trust in such an egregious manner. However I refuse to allow the corrupt actions of these individuals to tarnish the vast majority of the men and women of the Transit Police who day in and day out wear their badges and perform their duties with honor and integrity.