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Lawsuit Claims Boston Police Officer Lied About Wearing His Body Camera During Fatal Shooting

A video still from a Boston police officer's body camera shows Officer David Godin with his body camera attached to his uniform, a new legal filing says. Godin told investigators that he wasn't wearing his camera during the shootings of Juston Root. (Boston federal court)
A video still from a Boston police officer's body camera shows Officer David Godin with his body camera attached to his uniform, a new legal filing says. Godin told investigators that he wasn't wearing his camera during the shootings of Juston Root. (Boston federal court)

The family of a man shot and killed by police last year alleges in a new court filing that one of the Boston officers involved lied about not wearing his body camera during the shooting.

The family of Juston Root also claims that the Boston Police Department refuses to turn over information about its own investigation into the officer's body camera usage.

The officer in question is David Godin, a 20-year veteran who was the first police officer to approach Root as he wielded a paintball gun near Brigham and Women's Hospital on Feb. 7, 2020. He shot at Root at that scene, and was part of the car chase that ended in a Chestnut Hill parking lot. There, four Boston police officers and one state trooper fired 31 shots at Root, killing him.

In interviews with investigators five days after the shooting, Godin said he wasn't wearing his body camera at all, even though department policy required it. He said the camera was in his duty bag.

“I don’t keep it on my body unless I get out for a call,” he told investigators.

Godin repeated that explanation in a sworn statement as part of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Root family.

"I was more concerned with apprehending the suspect who I believed just fired at me than with taking my camera out of my bag," he wrote.

But the court filing points to video captured by another Boston police officer's body camera. The Root family's lawyers say it shows Godin wearing his camera in the moments after the shooting, then removing the camera and tossing it into his cruiser.

"Why would Officer Godin lie about not even having worn his BWC [body-worn camera] on February 7 unless he was attempting to conceal harmful footage it recorded?" the lawsuit asks.

The Root family requests a judge hold an evidentiary hearing to determine what happened to the footage on Godin's body camera and whether BPD followed its own body camera policy.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Root family declined to comment on the new filing. They said there is now "overwhelming evidence" to support reopening of the case.

"We hope our elected leaders won’t turn a blind eye to the facts and ignore the undeniable need for an independent investigation," the statement said. "This is an opportunity for real leadership and real accountability."

An investigation by the Norfolk County District Attorney's office determined that the officers who shot at Root in Chestnut Hill acted within the law. The findings of a separate investigation by the Suffolk County District Attorney's office into the shooting near Brigham and Women's haven't been released.

A Boston police spokesman said he could not comment on pending litigation. The department has not released any information about their own internal investigations into the shooting or the officers' body camera compliance.

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Ally Jarmanning Twitter Senior Reporter
Ally is a senior reporter focused on criminal justice and police accountability.

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