A terrifying encounter
Andrey Brown was working at home on a quiet August day in 2008 that stopped being quiet with little notice.
He lives on a quiet street in the Ashmont section of Dorchester, selling cable television packages as a subcontractor. His wife was at work at a downtown law firm, and his two kids were at school. He was upstairs when he heard a commotion downstairs.
First he thought he heard the mailman. Then he thought it was a break-in. Instead, he found himself face-to-face with two Boston police officers - Charles Kelley and Antonio DiMaggio - with no idea what they were doing in his house.
“I asked what they were doing in my house,’’ Brown said recently. “And Kelley asked, ‘Are we being recorded?’ That’s when I knew he was up to no good.’’
Brown recently recounted the incident sitting in his living room. He was surrounded by pictures of his wife and children and memorabilia from his children’s academic careers. His office is on the second floor, and he said that is where the officers found him.
“I had my hands handcuffed behind my back,’’ he said. “I had to crawl down the stairs, and Kelley said, ‘That’s what you get for not opening the door for a police officer. I felt terrorized in my own home.’ ’’
Brown, who’s 49, grew up in Dorchester and attended Boston Tech. One of his kids is a student at UMass Amherst; his daughter just graduated from Boston Latin and is headed to Yale. “We don’t bother anybody,’’ he said. “I’m just trying to do the right thing and raise my kids.’’
Brown first sought help from the American Civil Liberties Union. Their lawyers helped him get a transcript of the 911 call the police were responding to. Unfortunately, it doesn’t shed much light on this odd case. A caller tells 911 that there is a domestic violence situation underway at the address, but an officer responds that all they can find is one man hiding under a bed.
Brown says there couldn’t have been a complaint about domestic violence. He was home alone, for one thing, and has no history of violence, domestic or otherwise. The transcript confirms that he was the only person police found in the house. Brown was not arrested or charged with anything.
Earlier this year, an investigation by the police department’s internal affairs unit confirmed Brown’s allegation of official misconduct. Superintendent Kenneth Fong sent Brown a letter saying that he had concluded that the officers had violated a rule forbidding “unreasonable judgment.’’ Police Department spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll told me last week that both officers received oral reprimands from Commissioner Edward Davis.
“That was deemed the most appropriate punishment,’’ Driscoll said. She said she couldn’t comment on the details of the incident because Brown has filed suit against the department. She said that Brown can appeal the finding to the Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel, better known as the Coop. It’s a panel set up by Mayor Thomas Menino, under pressure from activists, a few years ago.
That sounds like a nice option. But as the Globe reported last week, that board is less than useless. It hasn’t met since November. Its members’ terms have expired. City Hall claims there is a slate of new nominees, but won’t say who they are. Would you take your problem to them?
Not surprisingly, Brown thinks the officers should be fired. But he also believes that his case raises questions about police contact in general.
“If they’re doing this to homeowners, what are they doing to kids on the street?’’
Adrian Walker is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org