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Police report alleges wild scene that led up to cruiser in flames

A police cruiser burns behind the police line near the intersection of Park and Tremont streets as a protest against police brutality pushes through the streets of Boston on May 31.
A police cruiser burns behind the police line near the intersection of Park and Tremont streets as a protest against police brutality pushes through the streets of Boston on May 31.Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe

A Boston Police officer whose cruiser went up in flames during the mayhem that followed a day of peaceful protests on May 31 was allegedly attacked twice — and rescued each time — by protesters, according to a police report released on Monday.

The police SUV engulfed in flames outside a downtown pub has become one of the indelible images of a chaotic and violent night in Boston that followed demonstrations against racism and police brutality. The incident played out around 10 p.m., six days after George Floyd, a Black man, was killed when a white Minneapolis police officer pinned his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

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That officer and three others were fired and criminally charged, and protests have filled streets here and around the country nearly every day since. Though most have been peaceful, the massive May 31 march and rally later gave way to looting and violence downtown.

In a police report written after he returned to the state, an officer said he was at the intersection of Tremont and Bromfield streets as tensions between protesters and police escalated, and police had donned riot helmets and armed themselves with wooden batons.

In the report, the officer said he was on site to assist other officers and parked a marked Ford SUV nearby. That’s when someone jumped onto the hood of the cruiser and started jumping on the windshield, the officer wrote.

The officer “attempted to grab him as he jumped off the hood, but the officer was attacked by a large number of violent protesters who began to throw items at him and punch him,” he wrote. “During this fight, [the officer’s] riot helmet was damaged and his body camera was torn off of his uniform.”

He wrote that the assault was brought to an end not by arriving police but others in the throng. “Another group of protesters intervened and stopped the group from further attacking the Officer,” he wrote.

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As one physical confrontation ended, the officer moved to another side of the cruiser where a second protester was intent on damaging the vehicle by smashing a window, he wrote.

“The officer was again attacked by violent protesters and was punched by multiple people,” he wrote. “The officer called several times for assistance and was again assisted by another group of protesters.”

Other officers arrived. At that point, the officer “was able to retreat and get to a safer location,” he wrote.

But the cruiser was left in place and it eventually was set on fire, the officer wrote.

No one has been charged with attacking the officer at Bromfield and Tremont or with setting the cruiser on fire, but the department’s arson unit is investigating.

The officer, who joined the force in 1991 and was assigned to Area A-1 in downtown, is currently out on injured leave, police said Monday. Police asked that he not be identified by name as he is considered a crime victim. Eight other officers sought hospital treatment for injuries during the incident and dozens more suffered minor injuries, police said.

In police reports obtained by the Globe, business owners reported discovering broken windows, the loss of cigarettes, lottery tickets, clothing, store shelves, and computer equipment during the looting that lasted into early Monday, June 1. The National Guard and State Police assisted Boston in quelling the disturbance.

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More than 50 people were arrested on a variety of charges including breaking and entering and assaulting police officers. One man was charged with the attempted murder of 21 police officers after he allegedly fired shots at a group of officers in the early morning hours.

At least nine other marked police vehicles were vandalized, police said.

Police arrested 53 people and summonsed one person into court in the wake of the incidents. According to Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins’s office, 40 individuals have been arraigned in Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester municipal courts since the disturbance.

Rollins’s office dropped charges against two people, and is fighting to have charges reinstated against another two people. Also, a judge ordered charges dismissed prior to arraignment for two other people at the request of their attorneys, according to Rollins’s office.

Anyone with information on the attack on the officer is asked to contact police by calling the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 800-494-TIPS or by texting the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).



John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.