Former TPD Officer Indicted on Civil Rights Violation and Other Charges
Arraignment Scheduled for Next Month
BOSTON, February 1, 2021— A Suffolk County grand jury on Friday returned indictments against former Transit Police Officer NICHOLAS MORRISSEY, 41, in connection with an April 28, 2020, incident in which he allegedly used excessive force against a homeless man and filed a report that was contradicted by video.
“In many cases, some individuals who regularly encounter police do so as the result of mental illness, substance use disorder, food and housing insecurity, or homelessness – all factors that make them more vulnerable and in greater need of assistance. Every time an individual comes in contact with a member of law enforcement is a potential opportunity to provide assistance or access to services,” District Attorney Rachael Rollins said. “Instead, Officer Morrissey is accused of physically assaulting the victim and using his position of trust and authority to actively cover up his criminal actions.”
Officer Morrissey was indicted on charges of assault and battery, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon (pavement), violating the victim’s civil rights and filing a false report. He is expected to be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on March 5, 2021.
According to prosecutors, Transit Police were called to Forest Hills MBTA station for a report of an intoxicated homeless man who refused to depart from a bus that had completed its route on April 28. Officer Morrissey was the first officer to arrive at the location. He allegedly dragged the 63-year-old victim from the bus on the Forest Hills busway and forcibly held the man face-down with a knee on his back for 20 seconds, pushed his head into the pavement, and later dragged him out of the bus lane. The man, who is known to MBTA police, suffered abrasions to his face that required a response from Boston EMS.
A second officer arrived at the scene after these events transpired. That officer noted that the victim was bleeding from the forehead and appeared more agitated than in prior interactions. Unaware of the alleged assault by his colleague, the second officer began speaking with the victim in an effort to de-escalate the situation until an ambulance arrived.
“This second officer exhibited the type and quality of care for the public that is expected and required from members of law enforcement. He, like the many other officers throughout Suffolk County that show compassion and empathy to people requiring assistance, should be commended,” District Attorney Rollins said.
A TPD superintendent had listened to the radio transmissions on the call in real-time as the events occurred and became concerned by the need for medical assistance. He later checked for a use-of-force report, which should have been filed in accordance with the department’s policy, and found none.
Officer Morrissey had instead filed a report on the incident alleging that the victim lost his balance while attempting to spit at him. Officer Morrissey said he grabbed the man by the shoulders and redirected him before the man fell through the bus door and hit his forehead on the pavement. The allegations contained in the report are not supported by security video or witness statements.
Officer Morrissey resigned from his position before any disciplinary action could take place.
“Had it not been for the intentional efforts of Transit Police Department leadership and their commitment to ensuring the safety of every individual they are duty bound to protect and serve, Officer Morrissey’s actions may not have come to light. I’m grateful to Chief Kenneth Green and his department for immediately starting an investigation and bringing their concerns to my office,” District Attorney Rollins said.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Bergin of District Attorney Rollins’ Special Prosecutions Unit led the grand jury investigation resulting in Friday’s indictments. Mr. Morrissey is scheduled to be arraigned March 5, 2021, in Suffolk Superior Court.
media inquires should be directed to Superintendent Richard Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org
All charged individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.