The City of Worcester v. David Rawlston, continued

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.



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17 responses to “The City of Worcester v. David Rawlston, continued

  1. zed

    The reckless language by O’Brien could end up costing the city more.
    Why didn’t Gemme just assign Rawlston to a 12-8 footbeat in Green Island for the winter?
    These guys talk a good game but due process? Give me a break.

  2. Joe Citizen

    How many times does this Cop have to be found not guilty? You have to ask yourself why the city manager and the chief are pursuing this case to this extreme. What hidden agendas or secrets are out there that we do not know about? It’s time to stop wasting our tax dollars and end this case! Get over it guys you LOST!!!

  3. Concerned Citizen

    This is just CRAZY! Why is the city wasting our tax dollars on what is Obviously a Case that the city knows they cannot win? Is this the same city manager that our city council voted a new contract? Who is in charge at City Hall and why is this wasteful spending being allowed?

  4. peggy sue

    It was proven over and over that the officer did nothing wrong so why would the city manager appeal the decision? If the City Manager can’t handle the simple decisions how can we expect him to handle the tough decisions that a City Manager is faced with? If O’Brien can’t handle the job then get someone who can!

  5. -Q

    End this ongoing miscarriage of justice saga now.
    To continue making false inflammatory statements against Officer Rawlston is inexcusable and in most likelyhood will prolong this travesty.
    The City Manager is costing Worcesters taxpayers exhorbinant amounts of tax dollars pursuing this, what appears to be, a personal vendetta. How else can anyone else explain how 4 different independent investigations (some that were agreed to by the city) have cleared Officer Rawlston?
    At what point will the City Council say “enough is enough” and put a stop to this continued wasteful spending in this personal crusade by the city manager.
    Counting legal costs assessed by Suffolk Superior Court that the City has been ordered to pay to Local 911, 3+years of backpay, outside legal costs by the city totaling $75,000 and rising the total amount the taxpayers of Worcester will eventually pay for this vendetta will approach $500+k…….how much confidence does the city manager have in our own taxpayer funded city law department if he has to look for outside help to counter union grievences?
    So now taxpayers are not only funding the city of worcester’s legal department we are also funding private practice attorneys?
    Something is very wrong with this picture

  6. honestabe987

    Someone should do a check on how much the city of worcester has spent in the last couple of years on these “knee jerk reactions” by Gemme and OBrian. That Vice squad overtime investigation went on for over a year and the State attorney general not only cleared everybody of any wrongdoing but criticized Gemme. That must have cost some big bucks and I’m sure there are a few lawsuits being prepared for defamation etc… STOP THE BLEEDING NOW.

  7. peggy

    How many times does this Cop have to be found not guilty? You have to ask yourself why the city manager and the chief are pursuing this case to this extreme. What hidden agendas or secrets are out there that we do not know about? It’s time to stop wasting our tax dollars and end this case! Get over it guys you LOST!!!

  8. Boots

    Many years ago a DOL atty. located in a one man operation in the old Main St. Post Office bldg. told me that if I wanted a good labor law atty. I had to go to Boston, because there were no good ones in Worcester. Seems like that is still true.

    City Hall seems to be digging that hole I hear so much about. Maybe they should stop digging?

  9. Will W. W.

    I think the posters are missing the message the City and WPD are sending: 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.”

    To avert the situation, calling 911, or showing his badge, or just huffing and puffing etc. would likely have halted escalation. But Rawlston wasn’t thinking.

    As an employee/Cop in this city must adher to higher standards. In this case, the cop went overboard – I’d question his sanity. And that should be the next step used by the City to prevent his return.

    Just because several politically biased groups said his actions were acceptable, doesn’t mean he should hold the job. He’s dangerous. I for one sure as heck don’t want him living next door to me or enforcing the law. What next, shoot parking violators? maybe obnoxious bloggers?

    Some people want cops like that enforcing laws? Many don’t.
    Thankfully there are clearer heads who see the big picture.

    God save the Commonwealth.
    Cause it sure as hell needs help.

  10. tatnuck resident

    Those close to this case realize that it is just a personal vendetta by the Chief.The “children” that were supposedly assaulted by this officer have been breaking into houses and cars for years and finally got caught.One of the “children” has a mommy that works at UMass with the Chiefs wife and an absentee Daddy that works at the jail bringing inmates on work release to the W.P.D. garage to sweep and clean for Gemmes brother.Speaking of which where has Lt. Jane disappeared to????????

  11. Donkeypunch

    Maybe the fact that the chief wife is the boss of one of the teenagers breaking into cars that night has something to do with this endless spending of taxpayers money or maybe someone should be asking why the conflict of interest in this case hasn’t been asked about and it seems the last poster will w.w. is one of the 150k a year cronies that is paid to drink the kool aid as long as they keep getting overtime and “insider” details so they will back the chief even when the entire city knows this is wrong and a personel vendetta of the chief so must be a deputy or a captain or one of the select few leiutentants that supervise the chief brother on overtime in the garage fixing deputy take home cars all day. I hope this cop sues the chief and the city for making claims they know are not true and I hope the councilors that are showing courage to stand up to this insanity can talk the chief off the ledge because the city knows they will never win this but they are just making this cop go years without pay even though they are making a joke out of this city and we know the department is a joke as long as insane dictators run the show and threaten everyone with firing or demotions or transfers if they dont always agree with what the chief tells them to think. I thought cops were supposed to stand up for what is right but I guess the allmighty dollar is being used to destroy the department.

  12. -Q

    “just because several politically biased groups said his actions were acceptable………” (talk about being disengaged and ignorant of the issue)
    lets look at that comment:
    The District Attorney found Officer Rawlston committed no crime and acted appropriately…………NO CHARGES FILED!
    The WPD detective bureau investigated and found no crime committed and that Officer Rawlston acted appropriately………..
    An Independent Arbitrator chosen by the Patrolmens Union AND THE CITY OF WORCESTER found no wrongdoing on the part of Officer Rawlston and he should be immediately returned to duty with back pay.
    Suffolk Superior Court found absolutely no wrongdoing on the part of Officer Rawlston and that he should be immediately reinstated with back pay, the patrolmens union to recover legal costs from the city of worcester……….
    Neighborhood Eyewitnesses to this event stated unequivocally that Officer Rawlston acted appropriately and that no crime was committed.
    And to top it off, the city manager has absolutely no faith in the taxpayer funded City Law Department he had to go outside the city for effective legal representation to the tune of $75,000 and counting…..Hows that working out for you manager?
    As a taxpayer and resident – I am asking the city council to put an end to the personal vendetta being perpetrated on Officer Rawlston by the #1 public safety official in our city – the city manager…………people can point fingers where they want but the buck stops at the city managers desk

  13. Let the record show that Q doesn’t understand the concepts of liability or responsibility. Does that surprise anyone?

    Try this scenario: Rawlston, in or out of uniform, again freaks out inflicting harm on a civilian. Another assault, maybe worse. The victim files a damage suit against the City for $X million. Or maybe against Rawlston.

    Think the plaintiff’s lawyer ISN’t gonna use the fact that Rawlston has a history. So judgment for the plaintiff in the amount of $X million and/or Rawlston gets jail and/or damages. He loses his cop job. Now has a record. Think he’ll ever work as a cop again anywhere? He’d be lucky to work as a 3rd shift mall cop.

    Or maybe he wins. But then comes the personal lawsuit from the victim’s family. He won’t come away unscathed. Rawlston’s life and his family will be destroyed – financially and emotionally. Think his union or cop buddies will help out?

    Or if he loses, again, think his union or cop buddies will help him financially – setup a job for him. No. They’ll avoid him like the plague. Or maybe his fan club (Q & company) will help out?

    The City has a responsibility to protect its citizens.
    Rawlston is a liability for the City.

  14. -Q

    let the record show that willy just makes this stuff up as he goes along relying on his NightLife degree and some type of twisted logic with no basis in fact whatsoever…………..ignorance is truly bliss willy and you are living the life ‘ol boy…………’

  15. Truth Be Told

    Ok Chief Gemme I mean Will W. W. shut off your computer, take your medication and start writing your letter of resignation because soon everyone will see you for the insane dictator and bully that you are. Those men with the white jackets will be coming for you real soon.

  16. Harper

    Time to end of of this. These perps did not get pistol whipped. The cop was not a maniac. The record shows this. The perps had to say something b/c they had been witnessed in another car and got in an altercation with that car owner. At this incident (minutes later) they had to give their full names and addresses. They were caught red handed not once but twice. Get over it.
    We need a new chief. A man that has great training, an analytic mind, is well spoken (no more Kerry Hazelhurst doing Gemme speak all the time), and would be an asset to the City. True thoughtful behavior that a City and its police force can be proud of.
    We need a new City Manager. One with a law degree that doesn’t speak like fool and can run the City without bringing in an outside law firm that has cost the City 75 grand on this one case and FYI we have paid this same law firm about 225 grand in other legal fees for other City issues. Get a City manager that can make use of OUR law Dept.
    Stop the bleeding the tax payers can see through this one.

  17. -Q

    ………and the city council extended the city managers contract an additional 5 more years while there were 2.5 years remaining before the original contract expired?
    The taxpayers can no longer to afford the wasteful spending by this City Managers pursuing these personal vendettas!
    are you listening city councilors?

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