Affidavit: Walsh Knew His Pick For Boston Police Commissioner Had Been Accused Of Domestic Violence

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Dennis White, left, was sworn in by Mayor Marty Walsh, right, as the city's new police commissioner. ) White's wife, Jackie, stands off to White's left.(Jim Davis/Boston Globe)
Dennis White, left, was sworn in by Mayor Marty Walsh, right, as the city's new police commissioner. White's wife, Jackie, stands off to White's left. (Jim Davis/Boston Globe)

Former Boston police commissioner William Gross said in a court filing that then-Mayor Marty Walsh was well aware of the domestic violence allegations against Dennis White when the mayor named White to run the police department in January.

Gross wrote in a court affidavit that in January 2014, he and then-commissioner William Evans personally reviewed the internal affairs reports of Dennis White and other candidates being considered for command jobs in the department. Those jobs must be approved by the mayor.

"There is no way anyone is brought onto the command staff without such a briefing to the mayor and approval by the mayor," Gross wrote. The affidavit was filed as part of White's lawsuit against the city, challenging the city's attempt to fire him this month.

White's promotion has become an embarrassment for Walsh and a headache for Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who was sworn in after Walsh resigned to become the U.S. labor secretary two months ago.

The city put White on administrative leave just days after Walsh named him to replace Gross when the Boston Globe publicly disclosed some of the domestic violence allegations against him.

In a statement Wednesday, Walsh reiterated what he said in February: that he wasn't aware of the allegations until after White was appointed.

"Neither the allegations nor the internal affairs files were shared with me in 2014, or during any other consideration of Dennis White," he said. "Had I known, I would not have chosen him for police commissioner or any other role."

Former commissioner Evans, now chief of police at Boston College, said in an email that Gross' statement was "absolutely false."

"I had no knowledge or did Mayor Walsh of White's disturbing past," he wrote. "We never discussed or knew of his personal issues at home. "

However, the commissioner before Evans, Ed Davis, said it was his practice to brief then-Mayor Tom Menino on the IA history of command staff appointees.

After an outside investigation started by Walsh, Janey tried to fire White last week. But before she could announce her decision, White filed a motion in Suffolk Superior Court to block the move, calling the investigation a "sham" and the move to sack him an "ambush."

A court hearing on the motion is scheduled to be held Thursday.

In its own filing on Wednesday, the city said keeping White on as commissioner, even temporarily, would be an "untenable situation" that would reinforce a culture of fear and the "blue wall of silence."

"Quite simply, especially now, Acting Mayor Janey and Boston’s citizens should be able to move on from Commissioner White and move forward with a police commissioner in whom they all have confidence and trust, and with whom they can effectively work to address the many issues confronting policing in Boston," the filing states.

The city's investigative files contain two key allegations of domestic violence against White from the 1990s. In 1993, White was alleged to have punched and thrown down the stairs his 19-year-old niece who had been living with his family. Six years later, his estranged wife alleged that he threatened to shoot her and a male officer White believed she was having an affair with.

White, in his own affidavit filed Wednesday, denies all the allegations against him in the old internal affairs files. And in both instances, the department cleared White of the allegations of physical abuse. He was promoted several times, eventually reaching third in command, before Walsh chose him as commissioner. The promotion to commissioner was announced the same day Gross' retirement was made public in January.

White also disputed accusations in a 19-page independent investigator's report released Friday, which detailed years of verbal and physical abuse against his former wife.

White says Walsh did not talk to him at all during his administrative leave — until last Friday, when Janey was expected to fire him. He says Walsh called him to apologize.

This segment aired on May 20, 2021.


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



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