A former Cambridge police officer allegedly struck a man on Massachusetts Avenue early Wednesday morning, pulled his car over to check for damage, and then drove away, leaving the victim unconscious in the street with a shoe and his hearing aids knocked off, Suffolk County prosecutors said.
Lawrence Stead, 69, of Quincy pleaded not guilty Thursday in Boston Municipal Court to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury. Stead was arrested Wednesday and posted $1,100 cash bail; Judge Sally Kelly did not impose additional bail Thursday.
Stead was located by police after witnesses gave police the license plate number of the car that allegedly struck the man.
“When Quincy police arrived at the defendant’s home yesterday, the defendant stated that he had seen the incident on the news and he was on his way to turn himself in,” said Assistant District Attorney Emily Hamrock. “The defendant was cooperative with police and stated he knew he hit something on his way home from work.”
The victim, who police have not identified, remains in Boston Medical Center in critical and unstable condition, she said. The charges against Stead could be upgraded if the victim dies, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney.
Stead’s attorney, William Hogan, said his client served as a Cambridge police officer for 35 years, and simply did not see the victim when he stopped his car.
“When the incident occurred, he actually stopped and got out of the vehicle,” said Hogan.
“He didn’t see anything, and he left, which was at 6 in the morning. There was no evidence of speed, there was no evidence of alcohol.”
According to court documents, when police arrived at 395 Massachusetts Ave. at around 6 a.m., they found the victim, who appeared to be about 50 years old, on the ground with head injuries, surrounded by small puddles of blood. His hearing aids and a shoe were on the ground near him, and the black down jacket he was wearing “appeared shredded and was almost unrecognizable,” according to the documents.
Two witnesses said they saw a gray Mercury hit the man and continue down Massachusetts Avenue, then pull over at the intersection of Columbus Avenue while the driver checked for damage before driving away again, according to the documents.
The witnesses gave police Stead’s license plate information, and when officers arrived at his Cove Way home, they examined his car and found a broken driver side mirror, scuff marks on the left front fender, a crack on the left lower portion of the windshield, and a crack on the left side exterior plastic cowl shield, according to the documents.
Stead told police he was on his way to the grocery store and then home from his job as a security guard when the accident occurred, according to the documents.
He said he knew he hit something that sounded like concrete, but did not see anything in his rearview mirror. When he pulled over, he did not see any damage or anything in the road behind him, so he left, according to the documents.
As he drove, however, he noticed his damaged mirror; when he got to the grocery store, he noticed the crack to his windshield, he said, according to the documents.
Stead left court without speaking to reporters. His attorney said that his client has strong ties to the community, and that his alleged crime is out of character.
“Obviously, if he was involved in this he feels terrible for the individual who was struck by the vehicle, and that’s really where his thoughts are today,” said Hogan.
“His thoughts and prayers are with this individual.”