On Wednesday, Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden announced his office would open a grand jury investigation into the case involving an alleged cover-up by transit police officers. The latest proceedings stem from an April 2021 incident in which an off-duty transit officer allegedly pointed his gun at a man during a traffic dispute. The announcement comes just days after a boston globe The report details the incident, the ensuing cover-up, and a different narrative about whether or not Hayden planned to drop the case against those officers.
“I understand that today’s announcement will be seen as a reaction to media reports. I can’t control perceptions. But I can assure everyone that this action would happen within the same time frame, regardless of whether or not this investigation has attracted attention,” Hayden said in a statement.
To understand the full context of Hayden’s announcement, you have to start at the beginning when police cars pulled up behind Jason Leonor in Mattapan last spring.
Leonor, a 33-year-old Hispanic black man, was driving on Blue Hills Parkway in Milton towards Mattapan on the afternoon of April 11, 2021. Leonor, according to the World, was returning home after attending the funeral of his younger brother, who died suddenly in his sleep. Frustrated with a slow driver in front of him, Leonor veered to the left and resumed his original lane. Leonor then glanced in her rearview mirror and saw the other driver appear to take a picture of Leonor’s car.
Leonor told the World that he was worried what this driver would do with the photo, as Leonor has a large following on social media. So he got out of his own car and approached the other driver to ask why the pictures were being taken.
The other driver, an off-duty white transportation agent named Jacob Green, then rolled down his window and pointed a gun at Leonor. “Get the [expletive] back!” Green yelled, according to Leonor, who then ran to his car and called 911. Leonor frantically told the operator that another driver had pointed a gun at him and he was still in a car behind him.
Green later described Leonor’s driving as “dangerous” and that he opened his door “violently” before crashing into Green’s vehicle, screaming.
“I was afraid of an imminent attack,” Green wrote, according to the World. “I removed my firearm from my rest holster and held it in my lap.”
Green added that he did not identify himself as a police officer. He was in a personal vehicle while wearing a sweatshirt over his uniform, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the World.
The two continued driving into Mattapan. Green called another officer to arrest Leonor, the World reported. He then approached Leonor’s car again, this time in uniform. Green cited Leonor for a marked lane violation.
Leonor stayed on the line with a 911 operator. During that call, according to the World, Leonor can be heard saying “Was that you?” to Green, then asking him “Why did you pull a gun on me?!”
obscure the truth
Hours after the incident, cellphone records show Green called Kevin Davis, another transit police officer. Davis, according to World, wrote his own police report, saying he witnessed the entire interaction from his own car, also off duty. Davis said he thought Leonor was going to assault Green, but decided to stay in his car in order to act as a witness. Green wrote his own police reports.
Transit police officials now say all three reports written by Green and Davis were false. They first found the suspicious reports and then took the matter to the office of Rachael Rollins, who was then Suffolk District Attorney.
Rollins launched an investigation, the World reported. A member of the Special Prosecution Unit was assigned to oversee the case, and the Transit Police obtained a search warrant for the phones of Green and Davis. Davis was later fired by Transit Police leaders for his role in the cover-up.
A change at the top
In early 2022, Rollins became U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts. In his place, Governor Charlie Baker nominated Kevin Hayden to complete his term. Hayden is now running against Councilman Ricardo Arroyo in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Democratic primary on Sept. 6.
When Hayden took over, he told the World that he would have no qualms about “engaging in the proper review” of police officers who have been the subject of allegations of misconduct. As of 2019, Rollins hasn’t been shy about looking into such allegations.
Hayden soon hired former prosecutor and defense attorney Kevin Mullen as his first assistant. Other changes followed. The DA’s Special Prosecutions Unit, typically tasked with prosecuting law enforcement officials, lost three prosecutors this spring. These positions are not yet filled, according to the World.
As new faces have come into play at the district attorney’s office, Green has been on paid leave. This month, he formally notified the ministry of his intention to step down in September.
Transport police officials told the World that the case was headed for prosecution this spring, but the case lost momentum within Hayden’s office.
Green’s attorney, Robert Griffin, told the newspaper he learned from Mullen that the case was settled.
“Kevin Mullen’s exact words were, ‘I have no desire to pursue this matter,'” Griffin told the World. He also filed a sworn affidavit in Boston City Court.
Hayden’s office, in response, said Griffin’s affidavit was “not true,” according to the World. It is a serious accusation. If proven, it could lead to Griffin being delisted.
Griffin stuck to his account and shared text messages he exchanged with Mullen to the newspaper. Davis’s attorney, Anthony Riccio, also said he had a conversation with Mullen during which Mullen told Riccio that Davis was unlikely to be prosecuted.
Hayden’s office provided several responses to the World, saying first that Mullen never told Griffin that his client would not be charged and that Griffin’s affidavit was false. Then Hayden’s office said Griffin had, in fact, recounted Mullen’s literal words but misunderstood their meaning. Finally, the prosecutor’s office said a clerical error resulted in an omission in his original responses and that the office meant his general counsel spoke with Griffin and Mullen and determined that Griffin misunderstood Mullen.
Griffin called it “pure spin and dishonest” in an interview with the World.
To complicate matters further, one issue involves the political donations made to Hayden’s campaign by Green and Griffin. These donations were made, according to the Worldjust days after Griffin was apparently told by Mullen that the DA’s office would not be pressing charges.
Griffin told the newspaper that the donations had nothing to do with the case and that he was a longtime supporter of Hayden.
Hayden said he would return those donations, totaling $225. A spokesperson for Hayden’s office told the World that these donations were a “potential conflict of interest” and that Hayden did not solicit funds from Griffin or Green. There is no record of any communication between Hayden and Griffin or Green about the donations, the spokesperson told the newspaper.
“Kevin Hayden solicited this donation himself, from me,” Griffin said. “He asked me for financial help. I didn’t do this alone. He called me.”
In the statement released Wednesday, Hayden reiterated that his office inherited this investigation from the previous administration and that it has always remained open and active.
“Our announcement today comes amid questions about this investigation and the path it took to decide whether to press charges. It is important to note that no action has been taken to close this investigation” , Hayden said.
He continued to refer to reports of Mullen’s interactions with attorneys representing Green and Davis, saying the final decision to pursue the charges in any investigation was his and his alone.
“There have been reports of discussions regarding this investigation between members of my office and people outside my office. These reports may have given the impression that this investigation was not moving forward. Nothing could be further from the truth. This case has remained open and active because I never intended to close it, nor made any decision to close it,” Hayden said.
Hayden also answered the question about campaign donations.
“I would not jeopardize my integrity, or the integrity of this office, by agreeing in any way to terminate an investigation because of campaign donations, as has been suggested,” he said. he declares.
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