Boston Officer On Leave After Roxbury Prep Students Say He Called Them Racial Slurs

Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins speaks to reporters Friday about the allegations of racism against a Boston police officer. (Quincy Walters/WBUR)
Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins speaks to reporters at a press conference on Sept. 20. (Quincy Walters/WBUR)

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said her office is investigating accusations that a Boston police officer used racial slurs against several students at a Hyde Park charter school.

A Boston police spokesman confirmed Friday that Officer Joseph Lynch has been placed on administrative leave.

Lynch reportedly was responding to a noise complaint about several teens from Roxbury Prep High School at a McDonald's near the school, the Boston Globe first reported. The students said the officer pushed them and called them racial slurs.

Rollins told reporters outside Suffolk County Superior Court Friday that her office has interviewed adult witnesses who corroborated the teens' story.

"It is unconscionable and the Boston Police Department is better than that," she said. "If this [officer] used racial slurs and referred to these children as monkeys and other derogatory terms, he should look for employment elsewhere."

Rollins said if the teens were being rowdy at the fast-food restaurant, or as she put it, "being teenagers," it still would not justify the alleged "problematic" response from the officer. The DA did not name the officer in her news conference.

On Thursday, Rollins and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross went to Roxbury Prep together to apologize to students for the encounter. She commended the highschoolers for their "bravery" in coming forward.

In her news conference, Rollins also praised the "overwhelming number" of law enforcement who do their jobs without abusive incidents.

"It's a tough situation," she said. "But we're going to look deeply into this and make sure we can correct whatever injustice occurred."

Mayor Marty Walsh called the allegations "incredibly disturbing" in a statement Friday.

“No one should experience racism or discrimination, not in a place of learning and not anywhere," Walsh said. "We have to be better. I commend Boston Police for taking action as soon as they were made aware of the allegations, and I am confident they will investigate this case to its full extent.”

Lynch has been with the department for 16 years, a Boston police spokesman said Friday. Rollins said she will be personally watching the investigation closely to ensure her office delivers an appropriate response.

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Quincy Walters Producer, WBUR Podcasts
Quincy Walters was a producer for WBUR Podcasts.



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