Saturday, November 07, 2015

Boston: Two officers face discipline in mishandling of domestic violence case that resulted in murder

Stephanie McMahon wanted her intoxicated ex-boyfriend out of her Hyde Park home, which is why she called Boston police. When the two officers arrived, they failed to make the simple computer check that would have confirmed the restraining order she told them she had against him, and should have led to his arrest. They took Randall Tremblay to a detox facility instead.

That may have been a fatal lapse. A day later McMahon was beaten to death.

Now, Tremblay is awaiting trial in McMahon's murder, and two police officers and a dispatcher face discipline, according to Police Commissioner William B. Evans, who called the case "extremely troubling."

"Domestic violence all too often ends with tragic results," Evans said this week. "It is concerning that additional steps weren't taken in this case."

Police officers Robert C. Boyle and William R. Hubbard have been on administrative duty, and Evans said they are facing "appropriate discipline." A department spokesman said the officers could be suspended.

According to the Police Department's account, Boyle and Hubbard responded to McMahon's River Street apartment twice on Nov. 16, 2014. Both times, officers were asked to remove an intoxicated person from the apartment. The second time, McMahon told the officers that she wanted Tremblay out of her apartment, according to a police spokesman, Lieutenant Detective Michael McCarthy.
Both McMahon and Tremblay were intoxicated, McCarthy said. "They were known to us to have issues with each other," he said.

McMahon told the officers she had a restraining order against Tremblay, but when asked to provide a copy of it she instead showed them hospital discharge papers, McCarthy said. The officers took Tremblay to Lemuel Shattuck Hospital for detox, where he spent the night before signing himself out.

Police discovered her battered body beneath a blanket on her sofa shortly after 2 a.m. on Nov. 18, 2014. Her face was bruised and bloodied, according to court documents. McMahon's skin was cold to the touch. Her dentures, full of blood, were on a TV stand.

On March 9, the medical examiner ruled McMahon's death a homicide caused by blunt force injuries to her head.

A homicide investigator discovered the active restraining order against Tremblay, court records show.

An internal affairs investigation was then launched at the urging of homicide investigators. The investigation found that Boyle, a 28-year veteran of the force and former union secretary, and Hubbard, a 12-year veteran, neglected their duty when they failed to identify Tremblay, document their response to the call, and determine if there was a restraining order against him, McCarthy said.

The department's rules indicate that anyone found to be in violation of a restraining order could be subject to arrest.  McCarthy said arrest is the preferred response in such cases.

A discipline hearing will be scheduled for the officers, McCarthy said.

Police records show Boyle has had 22 internal and citizen complaints filed against him for use of force, disrespectful treatment, and conduct unbecoming. Six of those complaints have been sustained, meaning that there was enough evidence to support the complaint.

Boyle made headlines roughly two decades ago when he shot and killed a Dorchester man he said had a gun. State and local prosecutors determined that the shooting was justified.

Hubbard has three complaints on his record, including the complaint in the McMahon case. He was the subject of a 2006 lawsuit after he led a car chase that left a 15-year-old boy dead in Roslindale.

Boston Police Patrolmen's Association attorney Kenneth Anderson described Boyle and Hubbard as "outstanding officers" who, when responding to McMahon's call, did "the best they could in this situation."  Anderson said the officers had a "complete lack of cooperation from all parties involved."

A civilian dispatcher, Sean Murphy, who also faces discipline, downgraded the domestic violence call to "a removal" without a supervisor's permission, McCarthy said. Under a domestic violence call a written report is required, McCarthy said, adding that once it was downgraded the officers can clear the call without a report.

Tremblay, 44, a homeless convicted sex offender with a lengthy criminal record that includes a child rape conviction and assault and battery charges, is scheduled to stand trial in March on charges that he beat McMahon to death and violated the restraining order she had filed against him.

In the April, 23, 2014, restraining order, McMahon said Tremblay pushed her to the floor during an argument. It wasn't the first time he had done something like that, she said, but she hadn't reported it to police. "I'm afraid of retaliation," she wrote. "I have PTSD, and I don't want to live my life looking behind my back all of the time."

Reached by phone Wednesday, McMahon's mother, Marilyn Barresi, said she was devastated by her daughter's death. When she was informed of the internal affairs investigation involving the two officers, she said: "I don't have a reaction to that. This is the second daughter I have lost."

Barresi said McMahon was beaten so brutally that the casket had to be kept closed at her funeral. "This is a terrible day for me," she said on Wednesday, the day McMahon would have turned 48. "It's a monster who did it."

Original report here

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