Boston police said they have filed criminal charges, including operating under the influence of alcohol, against an officer who allegedly drove through a stop sign at 70 miles an hour, striking another car and seriously injuring the young driver.
Police Superintendent in Chief Daniel Linskey said the charges were filed Tuesday, soon after police heard from a witness of the May 24 crash who told them the officer, Richard Jeanetti, appeared drunk.
“Once a person came forward who said to us ‘I observed this,’ we then were able to make a case,” Linskey said Wednesday.
Jeanetti has also been charged with reckless endangerment and failure to stop at a stop sign, Linskey said. The charges were filed in West Roxbury District Court. But drunken driving cases that result in serious injury are often sent to Superior Court, where the penalties can be more severe, said Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney’s office.
Jeanetti, who works in Mattapan and has been placed on administrative duty, could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Thomas Drechsler, said he has yet to see the charges against his client.
“He certainly denies any wrongdoing,” Drechsler said.
Jeanetti was off duty and in his personal vehicle when he allegedly drove through a stop sign on West and Austin streets in Hyde Park. He struck Brianna O’Neill, a Hyde Park waitress, who was driving to meet some friends that night. The accident and Jeanetti’s role in it were first reported by WBZ-TV.
Both drivers had to be taken from the scene by ambulance. Investigators from the department’s Internal Affairs unit and an auto reconstruction officer responded, Linskey said. Police later examined the black box in Jeanetti’s vehicle and found that he had been driving at around 70 miles per hour.
Police immediately requested that Jeanetti’s driver’s license be revoked and placed him on administrative duty, forbidden from carrying a firearm and from driving a department vehicle, Linskey said. Boston police said they did not conduct a breath test on Jeanetti at the scene because he needed medical help, and blood tests at the hospital would be able to detect the presence of alcohol.
O’Neill, who turned 22 last week, has a fractured neck, fibula, and ankle. She has moved in with her parents in Foxborough as she recovers.
“She’s just miserable,” said her lawyer, Rickie Weiner. “She can’t work, and she can’t do anything . . . She’s very upset because this guy is still on the job.”
Weiner said he contacted the department after the accident to tell them a witness had given him a statement that he smelled alcohol on the officer.
Linskey said that to his knowledge, it was only after the incident that a witness came forward to say that there was alcohol on the officer’s breath.
The information from that witness allowed the department to pursue charges, Linskey said.
Asked if Jeanetti would lose his job, Linskey said that the department must first allow the criminal case to play out.
Jeanetti, who has not been arrested, will probably receive a summons to appear in court for arraignment, Wark said.
Boston police disclosed the charges against Jeanetti on the same day another officer, a sergeant detective, was involved in a car accident on Route 138 in Milton. The sergeant, who was driving an unmarked cruiser, struck a female pedestrian, who suffered a broken shoulder. The accident occurred at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The sergeant stopped and cooperated with Milton police, Linskey said.
He said he could not provide details about the circumstances of the accident because Milton police are investigating. Milton police did not return phone calls.