Federal lawsuit alleges Boston police hid evidence, paid witnesses in murder case

Boston police face a federal lawsuit over the arrest of a man who spent 18 years in prison before the murder charge against him was dropped.

Shaun Jenkins filed a complaint in US District Court in Boston Thursday alleging that Boston police detectives paid witnesses and hid evidence that could have exonerated him in the 2001 fatal shooting of his cousin Stephen Jenkins.

Shaun Jenkins, 45, was released from prison in 2021 after new documents showed that police did not inform prosecutors that they had evidence implicating another suspect — Stephen Jenkins' drug dealer — and that they paid witnesses to testify against Shaun Jenkins. The complaint also said that police threatened witnesses with criminal charges if they did not agree to implicate Shaun Jenkins in the murder of his cousin, and that detectives promised a witness not to pursue criminal charges against him if he agreed to testify.

The complaint alleges that the Boston Police Department "prioritized clearing cases above all else" and "condoned the use of unconstitutional techniques to reach that end."

"The BPD’s lawless culture further resulted in a pattern, practice, and/or custom of deliberately fabricating and coercing evidence as well as withholding exculpatory evidence," the complaint reads.

Boston police declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The lawsuit names former Boston police detectives Daniel Keeler, Dennis Harris, Kevin McGoldrick, Paul Schroeder, and Paul Farrahar, a commanding officer with the homicide unit. The suit also names the city of Boston, saying it is liable for supervising the conduct of its police officers. None of the officers cited currently works for the department.

"Defendant City of Boston had notice of a widespread practice by its
officers and agents under which individuals suspected of criminal activity, such as Shaun, were routinely deprived of exculpatory evidence, were subjected to criminal proceedings based on false evidence, and were deprived of their liberty without probable cause, such that individuals were routinely implicated in crimes to which they had no connection and for which there was scant evidence to suggest that they were involved," the complaint reads.

The suit seeks a jury trial as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

This article was originally published on June 09, 2023.


Deborah Becker 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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