Rollins identifies police with possible credibility issues
SUFFOLK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY Rachael Rollins released a prosecutorial watch list Friday night with the names of 136 law enforcement officials who have been indicted or charged on federal offenses or been accused of or engaged in misconduct.
The Law Enforcement Automatic Discovery database is more commonly known as a “Brady List” after a 1963 Supreme Court decision requiring prosecutors to turn over any information that could be useful to defense attorneys.
The list identifies officers who work, have worked, or could work in Suffolk County and “whose prior conduct could impact their credibility as witnesses in a court proceeding,“ according to a Rollins statement.
Of the 136 officers on the list, more than 115 names have been added in the last year.
In light of the recent protests over the police–involved deaths of Black and brown people like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the issue of police accountability is increasingly in the spotlight.
Defense attorneys are often concerned officers with allegations and those who have been disciplined for misconduct are often allowed to testify as state witnesses because no one is tracking their behavior.
“The LEAD database will help us ensure that the legal process works and people charged with crimes by our office receive all of the information they are entitled to in order to properly defend themselves. The constitution requires as much,’’ said Rollins. She said testimony provided by prosecution witnesses, who often can be in law enforcement, must be “beyond reproach.”
Thirty officers on Rollins’s Brady list were flagged for overtime abuses. Twenty-six others have allegedly committed or confirmed to have committed larceny and embezzlement. Another 19 have gone through or are undergoing Boston Police Department internal investigations. Others have ongoing and closed investigations into allegations related to rape of adults, a child, assault and battery, witness intimidation, excessive use of force, perjury, and racial slurs.
Several of the officers are also on the Middlesex and Norfolk District Attorney’s Brady lists. WBUR reported in August that it had requested Brady lists from all of the DAs but only knew of three DAs that had them. Rollins’s office said at the time it was updating its list.
“The database is not voluminous,” said Rollins, “but the actions of the officers within LEAD are harmful, or potentially harmful to the community and the criminal legal system.”
The spread sheet of officers lists newspaper stories as the apparent source of the information on some of them.
Rollins’ office serves the communities of Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop, and handles over 25,000 cases a year.
One of the most publicized names on the list is that of Captain John Danilecki, who is currently undergoing an investigation by the Boston Police Department. The Boston Globe recently reported that Danilecki, who made $348,055 last year, is the focus of six investigations. Rollins’s own office is investigating him for “inappropriate behavior.”
Sgt. Detective John Boyle, the spokesman for the Boston Police Department, said he was busy Friday night with an ongoing protest and hasn’t seen the list. It’ll be “under review” by the department, he said.
“In these uncertain times we as a nation find ourselves in, with so much tension and mistrust between law enforcement and the communities we are sworn to protect, we must maintain credibility in everything we do,” Rollins said, adding that the list is a “living document” that will evolve over time.
Some criminal defense lawyers are pleased with the move toward transparency.
“Over 90 percent of criminal cases result in guilty pleas where an officers’ assertions are read off a police report, not tested under cross examination,” said attorney David Nathanson, who practices in Boston. He lauded Rollins’s release of the list as a “great start,” and said he hopes it’s expanded to include officers whose testimony has been rejected as not credible by judges. He also noted that because the Constitution commands the disclosure of the information, it shouldn’t be a choice for DAs to release or not release.