Two Boston police officers have been placed on paid leave while the department investigates why they released a handcuffed suspect after a brawl in the downtown area, officials said Wednesday.
Police identified the patrolmen as Royce Veal and Anthony Handelman-Smith, who have both been on the job for a little more than a year. A lawyer for their union declined to comment, and numbers listed for their possible addresses were not in service.
According to a redacted police report, officers were monitoring the closing of nightclubs at about 2:15 a.m. on Feb. 17 near the corner of Stuart and Warrenton streets when they saw the melee.
“At that time they observed an unknown Black male laying on the ground being punched and kicked by about six  Black males,” the report said.
The officers began pulling the assailants off the victim, police said, and one officer was punched in the head by a man wearing a black cap. That suspect fled into the crowd.
Meanwhile, police pulled another man in his 20s off the original victim and placed him in a cruiser after he was handcuffed, according to the report. He had also punched an officer repeatedly, police said.
A police sergeant later saw the man with the black cap trying to incite the crowd to fight, the report said, and the man told the sergeant to “[expletive] off” when he was ordered to leave.
Soon after, the officer who had allegedly been struck by the man in the black hat reported the attack to the same sergeant. That alleged assailant, who was not identified, was arrested and taken to the downtown station, where he was booked on a charge of assaulting an officer.
But the other man, the suspect in his 20s who had been placed in a cruiser, never made it to the station for booking.
Officers “stated that when they returned to their assigned vehicle, they didn’t know why the suspect had been placed in the cruiser and at that time they took the handcuffs off and let the individual leave the area,” the report said.
The report did not identify any of the officers or suspects.
Police said neither Veal nor Handelman-Smith have prior Internal Affairs histories. A member of the command staff was not available to discuss the matter on Wednesday, a police spokesman said.