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Former Boston Police Commissioner Sues City Over Firing

Dennis White after he was sworn in as commissioner in February.
Dennis White after he was sworn in as commissioner in February. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
This article is more than 1 year old.

Former Boston Police Commissioner Dennis White is suing the city and Acting Mayor Kim Janey in federal court over his firing last month.

In court documents filed this week, White's attorneys allege that Boston's investigation of decades-old domestic violence allegations against him was biased and that he was treated unfairly because of his race and gender. White is a Black man.

In addition, the attorneys allege that White was never given an opportunity to defend himself against charges from his ex-wife Sybil Mason, who is also a Boston police officer.

"Mr. White — a father, a husband, a son, and a survivor — became a casualty in Defendants’ rush to judgment against a Black man accused of domestic violence," the complaint said. The city's "uncritical and automatic acceptance of the allegations against him reflect their gender-based prejudice that a man could not be a victim of domestic violence."

The documents also suggest that White was treated differently than other police commissioners who were white.

“No white Police Commissioner with a similar record of service and achievement has ever been treated with such disregard and disdain,” the complaint said.

The city didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

White served as police commissioner for just two days in February before he was placed on leave after the Boston Globe uncovered some of the domestic violence allegations against him. After the city's independent investigator released a report on the allegations last month, White was formally fired.

White is accused of hitting and threatening to shoot his ex-wife in 1999 and hitting a 19-year-old woman in 1993. He denies the allegations, and he has not been charged with a crime.

The legal documents filed this week also allege that the city improperly publicized a personnel matter when it released the independent investigation and did not have cause to fire White because the allegations against him were already known.

Former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who left shortly after White's appointment to become U.S. Labor Secretary, has said he did not know about the domestic allegations.


Deborah Becker Twitter Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.



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