Embattled Boston top cop loses court bid to block firing
BOSTON (AP) — A judge ruled Tuesday against Boston’s embattled police commissioner in his bid to block the city from firing him over decades-old domestic violence accusations.
The judge denied Commissioner Dennis White’s request for a preliminary injunction, clearing the way for acting Mayor Kim Janey to move forward in removing him from the top job.
White was placed on leave in February, just days into the role, after The Boston Globe raised questions about allegations found in court documents that White pushed and threatened to shoot his then-wife, a fellow police officer. White has denied the allegations.
An email seeking comment on the judge’s ruling was sent to White’s lawyer.
White went to court this month after he says Janey informed him that morning that she intends to terminate him.
White’s lawyer argued in a hearing last week that the city has no cause to fire him and that White deserves a chance to clear his name. They wanted the judge to block Janey from firing him until the court holds an evidentiary hearing to determine whether there is cause to do so.
Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger said police commissioners must get a hearing before they’re removed, but they aren’t entitled to one in court.
Janey applauded the judge’s ruling in an emailed statement, saying she will inform White of “his rescheduled Zoom hearing.”
“It is time to move our City and the Boston Police Department forward,” Janey said.
An investigative report released by the city said witnesses alleged that White’s ex-wife was subjected to “physical and mental abuse.” Among the allegations included in the report is that White burned her hair, put her face to a stove and threw a television at her.
A judge issued a restraining order against White in 1999, ordering him to stay away from his wife and children and surrender his service weapon, the Globe reported.
The city’s report said White was also involved in what he described as a “heated fisticuffs” with a young woman in 1993. White admitted striking her with a full swing of his arm and open hand, but says he was acting in self-defense, the report said.
White denies abusing his ex-wife or ever threatening to shoot her. In an affidavit filed in court, White alleged that “she was looking for a financial advantage in the divorce and she got it.”
His lawyer said the report filled with what he described as “hearsay” had damaged White’s reputation.
White was swiftly picked to replace William Gross, the city’s first Black police commissioner. White had previously served as Gross’ chief of staff and then-Mayor Marty Walsh said at the time that he believed White would continue the police force’s reputation “as a leader in community policing.”
Gross said in an affidavit that former Walsh, now the secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, was aware of the allegations against White before choosing him for the job.
Gross said that the 2014 candidates for promotion to the department’s command staff — which included White — were presented to Walsh, and he was briefed on each candidate and their internal affairs history.
Walsh denies having any knowledge of the allegations before elevating White to the role. Walsh says that neither the allegations nor White’s internal affairs files were shared with him in 2014 when White was being considered for promotion to the command staff, or at any other time.
“Had I known, I would not have chosen him for police commissioner or any other role,” Walsh said in an emailed statement last week.