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Justice Rejects Boston Police Commissioner's Appeal, Paving Way For His Firing

Boston police Commissioner Dennis White attends a virtual hearing in Suffolk Superior Court on Thursday, May 20, 2021. White is fighting his firing by Acting Mayor Kim Janey. (Screenshot via Zoom)
Boston police Commissioner Dennis White attends a virtual hearing in Suffolk Superior Court on Thursday, May 20, 2021. White is fighting his firing by Acting Mayor Kim Janey. (Screenshot via Zoom)

A single justice of the Massachusetts appeals court rejected the latest effort by embattled Boston police Commissioner Dennis White to keep his job.

White had appealed a Suffolk Superior court judge's ruling that rejected his attempt to block Acting Mayor Kim Janey from firing him over decades-old allegations of domestic violence that surfaced shortly after he was promoted four months ago.

Former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh named White to succeed outgoing police commissioner William Gross in January. But Walsh put White on administrative leave and ordered an investigation after The Boston Globe reported he had been accused of domestic violence in a messy divorce in 1990s. A subsequent outside investigation found witnesses corroborated some of the statements from White's ex-wife and detailed an altercation with a second woman.

White has denied the allegations against him.

White wanted a "trial-like name-clearing" hearing, where he could bring evidence and cross-examine witnesses the city is relying on in its decision to fire him.

In a decision issued Tuesday, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger said the law did not require White to get a "trial-like" hearing, just notice and a hearing, before being terminated. Thursday's decision by Appeals Court Single Justice Vickie L. Henry paves the way for Janey to hold a hearing and then terminate Walsh.

Janey, in a statement, applauded the decision.

"I will immediately move forward to schedule a hearing with Dennis White," Janey said. "It is time to move the Boston Police Department in a new direction toward our vision of safety, healing, and justice."

White's attorney, Nicholas Carter, reiterated White's request made earlier this week for the outside investigator's file, including the identities of those making the allegations against him. He also wants a public hearing where he can present evidence and witnesses.

"He did not commit domestic violence and there is no cause to remove him as commissioner," Carter said. "He asked that the hearing take place at a mutually convenient time for all parties and that Acting Mayor Janey keep an open mind and allow him to present his case."

White has alleged that Walsh knew about the domestic violence allegations against him. William Gross, White's immediate predecessor, said in a sworn affidavit that Walsh was briefed on the domestic violence allegations when White was promoted to deputy superintendent in 2014.

Walsh reiterated Thursday he had no knowledge of the domestic violence allegations against White when Walsh promoted him to police commissioner.

"No I didn't," he said in an interview with NPR's All Things Considered. "And that's why when it was brought to my attention, I immediately brought in an outside investigator to look at the case. I was hoping to get this resolved before I left as mayor of Boston."

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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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