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Maura Healey launching review of road rage complaint involving DA Rachael Rollins

District attorney, fellow driver report differing versions of Christmas Eve incident

Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins on Tuesday.
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins on Tuesday.Nancy Lane/Pool

Attorney General Maura Healey has launched a review of an alleged Christmas Eve road rage incident involving Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, according to two people with direct knowledge.

Healey is looking into allegations that Rollins threatened a woman, and inappropriately flashed her blue lights, as they were both trying to exit the South Bay Shopping Center on the afternoon of Dec. 24, the two people said.

In a complaint filed first with the Boston Police Department, the woman, Katie Lawson of Dorchester, described her encounter with Rollins. Lawson declined a request for comment. Lawson is believed to have had no prior relationship with Rollins.

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“I had an encounter with the Suffolk County DA Rollins, one I would say was very disturbing,” wrote Lawson in her complaint. “During this encounter I asked DA Rollins to ‘just go’ several times and she did not. Apparently when she felt like she had done enough or said what she felt like, she then went right back to her (cellphone) call.“

Rollins has denied that she acted inappropriately and blamed Lawson for the encounter, but her spokesman declined to discuss the incident in detail. However, the spokesman, Matthew Brelis, expressed outrage that a producer for Boston 25 came to Rollins’s home recently to ask her about the incident.

A spokeswoman for Healey also declined to comment.

Lawson said she was trying to merge into traffic in front of a large black Chevy Tahoe when the driver, later identified as Rollins, rolled down her window and said, “You don’t want to try me today lady, you really don’t.”

Rollins then moved her car a few inches away from Lawson’s, she said.

“You want me to give you ticket? I will give you a ticket.” She then activated her blue lights and siren, Lawson said.

Lawson asked the passenger in her car, who has been identified as her fiancé, to photograph the license plate — which authorities told her was issued to the district attorney’s office.

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According to Lawson, Rollins then left the parking lot, blowing through a red light.

The incident was first reported by two bloggers, Turtleboy Sports of Worcester and liveboston617.org.

Rollins has denied threatening the woman, activating her lights, or running a red light. She said the other driver was driving the wrong way and she thought she would hit her.

On Jan. 9, Rollins responded sarcastically to the allegations on the Howie Carr radio show, suggesting Lawson’s claims were ridiculous.

“I apparently spend my time patrolling the South Bay Mall with my lights and siren on. Have you ever been?” she said. “It is a haven for emotionally disturbed people and people with substance abuse disorder. I made the bad mistake of going to Stop & Shop that day.”

But when a Boston 25 television producer and photographer on Friday approached her outside her house to ask about the incident, she berated them, throwing in some expletives.

“You’re in front of my house. How do you know where I live?“ she said in the video. “That’s unbelievable. My kids are inside. ... As a black woman in this moment and this country you’re going to put my (expletive) house on the screen?”

“We were just approaching you to ask you a question,” the Boston 25 producer said.

“Who do you think … get out of here. You know what I’ll do? I’ll call the police on you and make an allegation — rantings of a white woman,” Rollins said on videotape. “I swear to God — I’m dead serious. I will find your name. I will have you arrested, I swear to God. My children!”

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In a statement to Boston 25 and the Globe, Brelis said, “District Attorney Rollins ran for office, was elected, and has led with unprecedented transparency and access. She has been and remains available to her constituents, colleagues, and members of the media and has never avoided a difficult conversation.”

But Brelis said the visit to Rollins’s home by the Boston 25 team was unacceptable.

“Some 48 hours after our country witnessed an attack on ... elected officials, an unknown vehicle with an unknown man approached her in front of her home where she is the mother and guardian to three young girls. And she responded not as an elected official, but as a mother, an aunt, and a caregiver who believes her primary responsibility is to love and protect her family.”

In the Howie Carr interview, Rollins said that on Christmas Eve she was stuck in traffic when the woman drove toward her slowly and seemed like she was going to hit her car.

“This person apparently was driving very erratically in the parking lot, screeched to a halt, and then jerked forward and coming into the wrong way of traffic almost hit my car,” she said.

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She said she beeped her horn several times but the woman didn’t respond.

“I then hit a siren ... and her head snaps up and I say, ‘Stop. You’re in the wrong row of traffic’ and go back to my life.”

“That is the extent of that encounter,” she said.

She said there is “absolutely no truth” to the allegation that she activated blue lights.

The attorney general’s office is in the beginning stages of its review of the complaint, and has recently spoken to the alleged victim about the incident, a person with direct knowledge said.

According to other prosecutors, if the allegations are proven, Rollins might have violated several laws, including the state conflict of interest law, which prohibits public officials from using public resources on private business and from using their position to gain an advantage not available to other people. Making threats, impersonating a police officer, and running a red light are illegal as well.

Rollins said she has no problem with other authorities investigating the incident, though she said she has no interest in pulling video from cameras posted in the South Bay parking lot that could substantiate her claims.

She said she has more important things to do, such as solve homicides.

“What am I going to do, write myself a ticket?” she asked.


Andrea Estes can be reached at andrea.estes@globe.com.