Boston Faces Spike in Police Misconduct after Intervention Program Lapses

Costly lawsuits follow


ON APRIL 22, 2009, CHRISTOPHER KNIGHT and his girlfriend were driving in Boston when they got into a fender-bender. The couple called police after the other driver refused to exchange insurance information and Officer Gerald L. Cofield Jr. was sent to the scene.

According to Knight, Cofield was "verbally abusive and outwardly angry" from the outset and slammed the driver's door on Knight's leg. When Knight objected, Cofield allegedly yelled, "Let's go! Let's go!" Knight says Cofield then dragged him by his neck from the car, slammed him against the hood hard enough to leave a mark, and handcuffed and arrested him. The scene was captured on a cell phone camera by Knight's girlfriend.

Cofield charged Knight with assault on a police officer, while Knight sued the Boston Police DepartĀ­ment and Cofield in federal court. The assault charge against Knight was later reduced to disorderly conduct and subsequently tossed out. But Knight's civil rights lawsuit against the BPD and Cofield, a 30-year veteran of the force, was not dismissed. Boston ended up settling the case in October 2011, paying $35,000 for what should have been a routine traffic call.