Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
Tomorrow night city councilors and City Manager Michael O’Brien will meet in executive session to talk about what will come next in the three year saga of terminated Worcester Police officer David Rawlston. On December 1 a Suffolk Superior Court judge ruled against the City, upholding an arbitrator’s finding that Rawlston should be reinstated to the police force with full back pay.
In an email to Worcester Mag, O’Brien wrote “Police misconduct will not be tolerated. It endangers the public and diminishes the public’s trust in the Department and the men and women serving our community with integrity and honor. I cannot return an officer to duty who pointed his loaded weapon at unarmed children, and then pistol-whipped them, without any reason to believe they were armed and dangerous. While I am disappointed by the Superior Court’s decision, we intend to submit this matter to the Appeals Court for review and due process.”
But after three years and at least $75,000 of city money spent on the case, some councilors are ready to end the saga. After O’Brien announced his plans to continue arguing the case, Councilor Mike Germain told the Telegram that soldiering on would be “absurd.” Another councilor, wishing to remain off the record, added that Germain is definitely not the only one who feels that way.
Just in time for tomorrow’s meeting, Jerry Flynn, the executive director of the New England Police Benevolent Association (the Local 911 is defending Rawlston in court) released a two and half page statement today reiterating the rulings from the detectives to the court, accusing the City of an “attack on due process” and highlighting some unsavory internal conflicts within the police department – something the Telegram’s Dianne Williamson brought to light in an October column about the transfer of Detective Sgt. Mark Richardson – as a result of its investigations.
Flynn’s statement pulls no punches. “Unfortunately, the City of Worcester, at all costs, keeps its head buried deep in the sand, rejecting all of the independent findings,” he wrote. Towards the end he’s even blunter. “Clearly, these allegations of pistol-whipping children are not only baseless, but also damaging…Such public statements may result in significant liability to the City’s taxpayers, and to that end, we intend to pursue all civil avenues to hold those responsible for such recklessness accountable for their actions.”
An executive session last week was scrapped in part because Germain couldn’t make it, while this week’s was called by Manager O’Brien; signals that both sides are gearing up for a very private argument over a now very public incident.