Officer in video was investigated in ’08 death

On paid desk duty as review goes on

By Maria Cramer
Globe Staff / October 30, 2010

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

The Boston police officer seen on a video punching and kneeing a teenager during an arrest last week was also investigated two years ago for his role in the arrest of an Emmanuel College student, who died after a confrontation with police.

Michael T. McManus, a patrol officer assigned to the district that covers Roxbury, has been taken off patrols and placed on administrative duty, police said yesterday.

McManus, 32, is one of at least six officers seen swarming a 16-year-old boy on Oct. 22 at an entrance of Roxbury Community College, where a student filmed the violent arrest with a camera phone and then posted it on YouTube.

Police have launched an internal affairs investigation, and Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley has assigned his top prosecutor to determine whether any criminal charges should be bought against the officers. Police said the teenager had escaped juvenile custody and violently resisted arrest.

Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said McManus will be on paid desk duty during the internal investigation.

“This personnel decision is in the best interest of the ongoing internal investigation,’’ he said in a statement. “I would like to reiterate my commitment to ensuring an open and transparent investigation.’’

The move is not a disciplinary measure, said Thomas Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association.

He said that he is confident both investigations will show that all of the officers were following procedure.

“We’ve been in full cooperation with this,’’ Nee said. “There is nothing to hide. We have no concerns about the outcome of this investigation.’’

Police have said the officers struggled to hold down the suspect and struck him after he swung a handcuff at them, then tried to hit and kick them.

The suspect, whose name is being withheld by the Globe because he is a juvenile, has a pending charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

McManus joined the department in 2007. In 2008, he was among nine officers patrolling the Kenmore Square area during the Celtics championship celebration.

David Woodman, a 22-year-old Emmanuel College student, walked by them, holding a cup of beer.

McManus ordered him to stop. When Woodman kept walking, McManus rushed up to him and grabbed his hand.

After a violent struggle, McManus and other officers forced him down to handcuff him. Woodman, who had a heart condition, stopped breathing.

One of the officers tried to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, while McManus performed chest compressions.

Boston police and separate investigations by Conley and an independent panel found that Woodman may have stopped breathing for several minutes before officers realized his condition, but that his death was not a consequence of the struggle.

Woodman died after an arrhythmia 11 days later.

An independent panel found that there was a “lack of supervision’’ and other “missteps’’ by Boston police, but none of the mistakes contributed to Woodman’s death. In June, the city paid $3 million to Woodman’s family to settle a civil rights lawsuit.

At least five officers have been interviewed by internal affairs about the teenager’s arrest.

Thomas Drechsler, a lawyer with the union, said that all the officers involved had been trained within the last two months to employ the tactics seen in the video.

“Before people start jumping to conclusions, they might want to start educating themselves on the fact that the city actually trained the officers to do that,’’ Drechsler said.

The video has sparked outrage from some activists and elected officials, who are calling the arrest a case of excessive force.

Nee challenged the community to record shootings and robberies they witness in their neighborhoods.

“Where are the cameras when we want to see real crime?’’ he asked.

Officers are trained to strike suspects who resist arrest on pressure points and fatty areas of the body, specialists and law enforcement officials have said. The purpose is to cause enough pain that the suspect is forced to comply. It also helps protect officers and the suspect, specialists say.

A suspect who is not handcuffed could reach for a hidden weapon and provoke officers to use lethal force.

City officials have expressed concern about how the images on the video could affect relations between police and the minority community, which traditionally is reluctant to cooperate in criminal investigations. Most of the officers seen in the video surrounding the suspect, who is black, are white.

Bishop John M. Borders III, pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church in Mattapan, said he has received several calls about the video.

The seven-minute video was recorded by Eusida Blidgen.

“I’ve heard from several individuals that this event sets us back in terms of trying to get better cooperation between the community and police,’’ Borders said. “People have literally said to me that it’s hard to trust the Police Department in the first place and this doesn’t help.’’

Borders said while he believes the officers’ actions were “extreme,’’ he wants to wait until the department has finished its investigation before judging police.

“I spoke with the police commissioner, and I have every confidence that his investigation is going to be an impartial one,’’ he said. “The video of the incident is very disturbing, to say the least. I see it as an isolated incident in the context of a Police Department that’s trying its best to resolve the issues of violence that we’ve had in the African-American community.’’

Maria Cramer can be reached at

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Woodman as an Emerson College student. The story has been corrected to say that he went to Emmanuel College.

    waiting for twitterWaiting for Twitter to feed in the latest...