A Transit Police officer who dragged a man off a bus, used his knee on the man's back to hold him to the ground for 20 seconds, then pushed his head into the pavement had his case continued without a finding for 18 months, which means the charges will go away if he stays out of trouble for that time, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office reports.
The ruling, by Judge Michael Doolin, came after now former Ofr. Nicholas Morrissey pleaded guilty to violating his victim's civil right, assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and filing a false police report for an incident on April 28, 2020 that started when a 63-year-old homeless man refused to get off a bus whose driver had finished for the day.
As part of the sentence, Morrissey is barred from trying to get a job in law enforcement while his case is is still active, the DA's office says.
Had the case proceeded to trial, [Assistant DA Kevin] Bergin would have presented evidence and testimony to prove that Transit Police were called to Forest Hills MBTA station for a report of an intoxicated homeless man who refused to depart from a bus that had completed its route on April 28, 2021 [sic]. Morrissey was the first officer to arrive at the location. He dragged the victim from the bus on the Forest Hills busway. Morrissey forcibly held the man face-down on the ground with a knee on his back for 20 seconds, pushed his head into the pavement and later dragged him out of the bus lane. The victim suffered abrasions to his face that required a response from Boston EMS.
A second officer arrived at the scene after these events transpired. That officer, who was familiar with the victim through previous interactions, noted that the victim was bleeding from the forehead and appeared more agitated than any of their prior interactions. Unaware of the assault by his colleague, the second officer began speaking with the victim in an effort to de-escalate the situation until an ambulance arrived.
A TPD superintendent had listened to the radio transmissions on the call in real-time as the events occurred and became concerned by the need for medical assistance. He later checked for a use-of-force report, which should have been filed in accordance with the department’s policy, and found none.
Morrissey filed a report on the incident stating that the victim lost his balance while attempting to spit at him. Morrissey said he grabbed the man by the shoulders and redirected him before the man fell through the bus door and hit his forehead on the pavement. The allegations contained in the report were disproven by the evidence, which included security video and witness statements.
During a court conference yesterday, Bergin argued that even with the guilty plea, Morrissey should be sentenced to one year in jail. Morrissey's attorneys, however, argued with a continuation finding. According to the DA's office, Doolin "cited Morrisey’s resignation from TPD as a form of taking responsibility for his actions, as well as his military service in reaching the sentencing decision."