By Staff

DEDHAM (CBS) – The attorney for retired Massachusetts State Trooper James Coughlin and his wife called the drowning of 17-year-old Alonzo Polk during a graduation party at their Dedham home a “terrible accident,” but argued they should not be held criminally responsible for his death.

Defense attorney Brian Kelly said after James and Leslie Coughlin were arraigned Tuesday that hospital records showed Polk was not drinking the night of his death.

The couple faces charges of reckless endangerment and serving alcohol to minors. They were released without any bail set following Tuesday’s arraignment.

James Coughlin and his wife Leslie in Dedham District Court ON September 7, 2021. (WBZ-TV)

On June 6, Polk was pulled from a pool during a graduation party at the Coughlin family’s Netta Road home. Polk, who had just graduated from Dedham High School hours earlier, died several days later.

Police filed a criminal complaint against James and Leslie Coughlin on misdemeanor charges because they hosted the party. At a hearing in front of a clerk magistrate in July, police testified there was underage drinking at the party, with beer cans scattered throughout the yard.

Kelly said Polk was thrown into the pool by a friend who didn’t know the teenager couldn’t swim. Kelly also said previously Polk was not known as a drinker and was seen drinking water, something he said records now confirm.

“From the outset we have said two things. First of course this a terrible accident, a terrible tragedy for Alonzo,” Kelly said. “Secondly, we’ve said from the outset he was not a drinker. He was not drinking at this party. The hospital records that we’ve just received confirmed there was no alcohol in his blood.”

A poster of Alonzo Polk at a vigil in his honor, June 13, 2021. (WBZ-TV)

Several dozen members of Polk’s friends and family attended Tuesday’s arraignment. Leaving the courthouse they chanted “We want justice for who? Alonzo!”

“We came here today to see justice happen. But what we’ve seen today was these people come in this courthouse today and leave with no repercussions,” Polk’s brother Roshawn Drane said. “My brother’s no longer here. He’s no longer walking this earth. But for these people to be able to walk out of this courtroom without a bail or anything set is beyond us.” Staff