BOSTON (CBS) — A former Transit Police officer was indicted on a civil rights violation and other charges, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday. Nicholas Morrissey, 41, is accused of “allegedly used excessive force against a homeless man” last year and filing a report that contradicted video of the incident.
On April 28, 2020, Transit Police were called to the Forest Hills MBTA station for a report of an intoxicated homeless man who refused to get off the bus. According to prosecutors, Morrissey dragged 63-year-old off the bus, held the man face-down on the pavement with a knee to his back for 20 seconds, pushed his head into the pavement and dragged him out of the bus lane.READ MORE: CVS Lists Teachers As Eligible For COVID Vaccine Appointments In Massachusetts
The man, who is known to the MBTA police, suffered cuts to his face that required a response from Boston EMS.
A second officer responded to the scene after the alleged assault took place. He noticed the man bleeding and, unaware of what had transpired, tried to talk to the man to de-escalate the situation.
“This second officer exhibited the type and quality of care for the public that is expected and required from members of law enforcement. He, like the many other officers throughout Suffolk County that show compassion and empathy to people requiring assistance, should be commended,” District Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement.READ MORE: Wednesday's Child: Siblings Jessica & Orlando
In Morrissey’s report of what happened, the man lost his balance while trying to spit on him. Morrissey allegedly said he grabbed the man by the shoulders and redirected him before the man fell through the bus door and hit his head on the pavement. The D.A. said those events are not supported by the security video or the witness statements.
Morrissey resigned before any disciplinary action could take place.
“In many cases, some individuals who regularly encounter police do so as the result of mental illness, substance use disorder, food and housing insecurity, or homelessness – all factors that make them more vulnerable and in greater need of assistance. Every time an individual comes in contact with a member of law enforcement is a potential opportunity to provide assistance or access to services,” Rollins said. “Instead, Officer Morrissey is accused of physically assaulting the victim and using his position of trust and authority to actively cover up his criminal actions.”MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
Charges against Morrissey include assault and battery, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon (pavement), violating the victim’s civil rights, and filing a false report. He will be arraigned on March 5.