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Yancey: Hold Boston police accountable

Bridgit Brown | 9/27/2011, 11 p.m.

Prompted by the recent clearing of Boston police officers in the brutal, videotaped arrest of a juvenile at Roxbury Community College, Boston City Councilor Charles Yancey renewed calls for “a truly independent” civilian review board.

In a prepared statement, Yancey described the arrest as a “beating” and said that it “cries out for a system that will gain public trust in the Boston Police Department as well as in its Internal Affairs Division.”

“A civilian review board could ensure an objective review of facts and it could also guarantee a process to hold any police officers involved in civil rights violations accountable for their actions,” Yancey stated.

Though Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said he too was “disturbed” by the video clips of the arrest, he still concluded earlier this month that the police officers did not use excessive force and would not face criminal charges.      

Cell phone footage of the arrest inside the lobby of the college shot by civilians captured several officers restraining and striking the 6-foot-1-inch, 165-pound youth on the floor of a campus building.

“Context is everything,” Conley said at a recent press conference, explaining that the 16-year-old suspect was wanted on warrants for assault charges and exhibited “assaultive behavior’’ when police tried to apprehend him.

But during the struggle, Officer Michael McManus hit the youth about 17 times, including six “hammer type’’ strikes with the fleshy portion of his fist instead of his knuckles, according to Conley.

Last week, scores of community actvists demonstrated in front of Roxbury Community College.

 “It is unfortunate that this incident occurred in our community and on our campus,” said Dr. Stephanie C. Janey, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at RCC. “Violence in any form is antithetical to the value that guides this institution of higher learning.”

The arrest was captured on the cell phone of a first-year RCC student at the time, and then posted onto YouTube. The footage, which has since been viewed by more than a million users, shows five BPD officers punching, jabbing and even kneeing the youth.

Connelly explained in his report that “the arrest of a violently resistant suspect is by its nature chaotic and can be disturbing to observers.”

But during the rally former state Sen. Bill Owens asked, “If there was a man subdued by five or six other people and I hit him seventeen times with my fist and, allegedly, with the fleshy part of my hand, would I be charged? I think you know the answer,” he concluded. “It is criminal, and I don’t care who says it is not.”  

The minor received a cut on his forehead, a bump above his eyes, and an abrasion beneath his head as a result of the arrest. The results of the investigation serve as a crippling blow to the already weak relationship between the Boston Police Department and the people of the city of Boston.

“The foundation to the community is trust,” said at-large city councilor William Dorcena. “Trust between the neighborhood and the Boston Police Department. The way you get to trust is through honesty. I don’t know any parent that would watch that video and see the knees being delivered upon that kid and say that it’s OK, including me, and that’s honesty.”