I-Team: Woman Nearly Killed In Crash With Off-Duty Boston Police Officer
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BOSTON (CBS) – A WBZ-TV I-Team investigation raises serious questions about Boston Police and how they handled a car crash involving one of their own officers. It was a horrific crash which nearly killed a young woman on Thursday, May 24th.
Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve says so far the Boston Police officer has not been charged with anything.
The attorney for the crash victim tells the I-Team that the off-duty officer had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system and has learned the officer was going about 70 mph, or about three times the speed limit when he caused the crash in Hyde Park.
It has been more than four weeks since 22-year-old Brianna O’Neill came within inches of dying in the crash.
“I have a fracture at the top of my neck, a C-1 break in my spine,” says O’Neill.
Her Honda Accord was crushed by a Toyota truck at a Hyde Park intersection. The driver of the Toyota was 35-year-old Boston Police officer Richard Jeanetti.
Witness Kelvin Santiago said it was clear that the officer had been drinking. Santiago, who lives a few feet from the intersection, helped Officer Jeanetti out of his mangled truck. “He smelled like liquor. You could smell it right out of the car. And once he talked, saying, ‘oh I did not see her.’”
But despite all that, Officer Jeanetti was not given a breathalyzer and he was not arrested. That troubles Brianna O’Neill’s attorney, Rickie Weiner.
“All these police officers are standing around this guy while my client is lying in the street,” Weiner said. “These are officers who are trained to make observations with regards to intoxication and impairment and the police report which is done in 24 hours does not mention anything about it.”
That really bothers O’Neill.
“It makes me angry. It makes me very upset,” she said. “I say if the situation were turned around I would be behind bars right now.”
Documents obtained by the I-Team raise even more questions about the way Boston Police investigated one of their own. The official police report quotes a key witness, whose car was also hit, as saying Officer Jeanetti, “may not have completely stopped at the all way stop sign at the intersection… but that she was not completely sure.”
Michelle Bethel is that witness. She told the I-Team she never made that statement to police.
“That is false,” she said. “That is entirely false.”
How fast was he going?
“About 70 mph, says Michelle. “He was flying.”
“I told the police that he blew right through the stop sign, like he did not even try to stop,” said Michelle. “He seemed drunk to me. I told them and they did not include that in there either.”
Shortsleeve asked Kelvin Santiago what he thought about the fact that police did not do a breathalyzer.
“It is kind of messed up,” he said. “Any regular citizen would have a gotten one and been arrested.”
Officer Jeanetti has been on “restricted duty” since the crash. His gun has been taken away and his driver’s license revoked.
About the investigation, the Boston Police told the I-Team:
“Officer Jeanetti, is currently on Administrative Restricted Duty and has been since the accident. We can confirm that on the night of the accident, a Boston Police Superintendent was called to scene by supervisors and that all injured persons, including the off-duty officer, were already on their way to area hospitals. An Immediate Threat Report has been filed with the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the officer’s license to operate has been revoked. The Boston Police Department is and has been cooperating fully with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and has recommended that the matter be taken before a Grand Jury. An internal investigation will take place for a review of administrative rules violations following the criminal process.”
The I-Team tried to contact Officer Jeanetti but no one answered the door at his Hyde Park home, which is just a short distance from the crash scene.
“This man is just being allowed to live his daily life when every day my life is difficult and I am in pain and I cannot do anything,” said Brianna O’Neill.
Boston Police have the evidence, the authority and the power to take out a criminal complaint against Officer Jeanetti.They could have done that at any time since Friday May 25th.
So far they have not, but since police were contacted by the I-Team this past Monday morning, we are told that could change very soon.