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).