BOSTON (CBS) – Suspended Boston Police Commissioner Dennis White went before a judge Thursday to request an injunction to prevent Acting Mayor Kim Janey from firing him.
White and his attorney appeared before Suffolk Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger on a Zoom hearing claiming Janey does not have the right to replace him.
White was taken off the job in February, two days after he was sworn in by former Mayor Marty Walsh, after a decades-old allegations of a domestic abuse came up. An independent investigator was hired to look into the case. Last week, Janey released that report and said it was clear to her that Boston needed a new police commissioner.
White, a 32-year veteran of the department, filed a lawsuit to stop Janey from firing him.
He did not speak at Thursday’s hearing. His attorney, Nicholas Carter, said White is entitled to a full hearing to clear his name with witnesses and cross-examination.
A lawyer for the city, Kay Hodge, said White is entitled to a termination hearing where he can tell his side of the story. Janey wants him removed not only because of the domestic violence allegations, but because of how White handled questions about it.
“He was not cooperative. He didn’t answer many of the questions, by the way, questions which a police officer would be forced to both cooperate and to answer. He wanted to be ordered to do that,” Hodge said.
Carter said Walsh knew about the domestic violence allegations when he appointed White in February.
“The city cannot hire him knowing something and then fire him for the things they knew about,” Carter told the judge.
“We need to pause in the rush to judgement here. We’re talking about a person’s life, a first responder a husband, a brother, a father, a grandfather,” Carter said. “He’s been accused of having committed serious crimes 20 to 30 years ago, and on no actual evidence. He’s been convicted by the acting mayor, and the city and the media. His reputation, livelihood and life are on the line here.”
Judge Brieger said she would take the matter under advisement.
“I respect Judge Brieger’s decision to take more time before issuing a ruling in this case and appreciate her intent to rule as soon as possible,” Janey said in a statement after the hearing Thursday.
“The people of Boston and the Boston Police Department deserve leadership that shares our goal of safety, healing, and justice. We look forward to the court’s ruling.”
Former Boston City Councilor Larry DiCara says Janey can move on issues that are pressing to the city. “I would argue that given the current turmoil in the police department, this is not a matter that can wait until a new mayor is elected,” DiCara told WBZ.
Labor attorney Chuck Rodman believes White may not win this first round. “If he hasn’t had a procedural hearing, a hearing guaranteed by the removal statute, he’s putting the cart before the horse complaining about a termination that hasn’t happened yet,” Rodman said.
In an affidavit filed in Suffolk Superior Court earlier this week, former Police Commissioner William Gross testified that Walsh had known about the accusations against White since 2014. Walsh resigned as mayor in March to become the U.S. Secretary of Labor.
In a statement Wednesday, Walsh again denied he ever knew about White’s alleged domestic abuse or the internal affairs files on the investigation.