04/20/2002

Boston Police Sergeant Demoted for Beating in 2000

BOSTON (AP) - A Boston police sergeant has been demoted to patrol officer after an internal investigation found that he used excessive force when he chased and beat a teen-ager he believed gestured obscenely in his direction.

Boston Police Commissioner Paul F. Evans also suspended Joseph A. Lemoure for a year without pay. Lemoure, whose punishment was outlined in a March 29 order from Evans, is appealing to the state Civil Service Commission.

"We believe it's unprecedented," said Boston police spokeswoman Mariellen Burns. "The commissioner has been tough on discipline and this case is no different. The actions that were taken in this case were done because of the egregious nature of what took place."

Howard Friedman, a Boston attorney who has twice sued on behalf of clients who said they were brutalized by Lemoure, called Evans' actions "a significant punishment."

In 1992, Friedman sued the Boston Police Department on behalf of Andre Alves, who alleged that Lemoure punched and kicked him. The civil rights case was settled, according to federal court records. Lemoure was promoted to sergeant after he was sued by Alves.

Friedman used the St. Clair Commission report, issued that year, as the basis of the suit. Attorney James St. Clair, who led the commission, found massive failures in how the department handled civilian complaints against officers.

Friedman's new client, Peter Fratus, claims that Lemoure wrongly accused Fratus of making an obscene gesture as Fratus drove past the East Boston police station around 2 a.m. on June 24, 2000.

Lemoure, who was the duty supervisor in charge of the entire shift of uniformed officers, got into a cruiser and pursued the car, according to the lawsuit and Boston Police.

He pulled Fratus out of the car and threw him to the ground, asking him, "Who's the tough guy now?" according to Fratus. Evans's order said Lemoure "kicked and punched the male in the head area, causing injury to his jaw."

Fratus denies gesturing at Lemoure. Even if he had, Lemoure overreacted, Friedman said.

In the order, Evans faulted Lemoure for failing to notify operations he was pursuing a car; failing to notify the department he had pulled over a vehicle; mishandling his responsibilities as a duty supervisor; and violating the department's policy on use of force.

Mary Jo Harris, Evans's legal adviser, said the department has not referred the Lemoure case to federal or state prosecutors for criminal charges.

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