District Attorney Rollins Names Discharge Integrity Team for Fatal Police Shooting
BOSTON, March 11, 2019—Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins today announced the formation of her Discharge Integrity Team, a panel she has tasked with assisting her in performing an outside review of the Feb. 22 fatal police-involved shooting on Gerard Street in Roxbury.
Fulfilling her pledge to bring in outside experts for a transparent examination of the facts in every such case, District Attorney Rollins said these team members were selected for their impartiality, reputations for excellence, and specific expertise in community advocacy, criminal prosecution and defense, police investigations, and the rules of evidence and criminal practice in Massachusetts courts. They are:
• Phillomin Laptiste, Executive Director of the Bowdoin Street Health Center. Ms. Laptiste was born and raised on Bowdoin Street and has spent her professional life as an advocate for the Bowdoin/Geneva neighborhood while pursuing public health options for all of Boston’s residents. She has direct and personal experience with homicide and the health and safety impacts of trauma.
• David E. Meier, a partner at the law firm of Todd & Weld handling criminal defense matters. Mr. Meier served as the chief of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Homicide Unit from 1996 to 2008 and oversaw all death investigations, including fatal police shooting investigations, in Suffolk County during that time. Mr. Meier played a key leadership role in the Suffolk DA’s DNA Committee, which reviewed wrongful conviction claims as the precursor to today’s Conviction Integrity Program.
• Detective Lieutenant Robert Murphy, Commanding Officer of the State Police Detective Unit assigned to District Attorney Rollins’ office. A recipient of the Superintendent’s Unit Commendation and a Hero’s Award from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Detective Lieutenant Murphy has 20 years of experience in homicide and death investigations.
• The Honorable Charles T. Spurlock (Ret.), a highly-experienced and well-respected former judge who was appointed to the Roxbury District Court bench in 1986 by Governor Michael Dukakis and went on to preside over dozens of homicide trials as an associate justice of the Superior Court from 1992 until his retirement in 2010. Prior to joining the bench, Judge Spurlock was a supervising attorney for the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Roxbury.
“These cases are incredibly complex, emotionally-charged, and extremely important to both law enforcement and the community at large,” District Attorney Rollins said. “I’m confident that Ms. Laptiste, Mr. Meier, Detective Lieutenant Murphy, and Judge Spurlock will offer valuable assistance in assessing the facts, evidence, context, and law free from any bias – or even the appearance of bias. They will bring a fresh set of eyes and a variety of experiences to an issue of great public concern.”
The DIT members will convene on at least a monthly basis to review the progress of the investigation into the Feb. 22 encounter between 36-year-old Kasim Kahrim and Boston Police officers, during which Mr. Kahrim was fatally wounded and an officer suffered multiple gunshot injuries. The DIT will meet directly with District Attorney Rollins and her top prosecutor, First Assistant DA Daniel Mulhern, whom she assigned to the investigation and who reports directly and exclusively to her. They will assess the state of the evidence, monitor the direction of the investigation, and examine the procedural steps undertaken by investigators on the ground. They will make inquiries, offer insights, and present objective opinions based on their thorough review.
The innovative creation of an outside review team to assist in officer-involved fatal shootings is believed to be unique in Massachusetts and across the nation, District Attorney Rollins said, and fulfills her campaign promise to address concerns about independence in officer-involved shootings while maintaining the District Attorney’s exclusive statutory authority to “direct and control” all death investigations.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.