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Milton police officer arraigned for allegedly threatening, intimidating Black teen over support for Black Lives Matter

Officer Patricia Lio of the Milton Police Department appeared at a hearing in April in Dedham District Court. A magistrate determined she should be charged criminally.
Officer Patricia Lio of the Milton Police Department appeared at a hearing in April in Dedham District Court. A magistrate determined she should be charged criminally.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

A white Milton police officer was arraigned Tuesday over allegations that she threatened her son’s 14-year-old friend over his support for Black Lives Matter during an off-duty incident last September at her home in Westwood.

Officer Patricia Lio, 52, is also accused of assaulting her husband, who intervened in an effort to stop the confrontation. She is charged with assault to intimidate for the alleged attack on her son’s friend, who is Black, and assault and battery for allegedly striking her husband. Lio denies the allegations.

In a hearing held Tuesday morning over the telephone, Dedham District Judge Michael J. Pomarole ordered Lio to have no contact with her son’s friend and refrain from abusing her husband. She will remain free while her case is pending. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for July 30.

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Lio’s attorney, Kevin Reddington, said his client is a distinguished officer who has never had any issues in her life and welcomed the 14-year-old into her home. The incident occurred at an “emotional time,” he added.

“I hope that cooler heads will prevail and this matter will be resolved,” Reddington said.

An assistant clerk magistrate ruled last month that the case should be treated as a criminal matter, following testimony from Lio, her husband, and one of their teenage sons. Clerk magistrate hearings are typically held behind closed doors, but the Globe filed an appeal in October and the proceeding was made public.

According to Westwood police, Lio confronted her son’s houseguest with clenched fists and asked whether he supports Black Lives Matter, a movement that protests police brutality and violence against Black people. It began as a social social media hashtag after the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.

Lio’s case stems from an encounter in her home in September. The 14-year-old was at Lio’s house for a sleepover with one of her sons. Last month, Lio testified that she became upset after her other son showed her a post published by the houseguest on social media that referred to the Black Lives Matter movement’s support for cutting police budgets.

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Lio testified that she opposes defunding police departments and that antipolice sentiments have made her fear for her life. She denied that her outburst was racially motivated.

Her husband, Anthony, testified that Lio didn’t strike him, and that the blood witnesses saw on his face was the result of a work-related injury.

The Department of Children and Families has said that it investigated the incident at Lio’s home, but was barred by law from releasing the findings.

Milton Deputy Police Chief James O’Neil said Tuesday that the department was monitoring the criminal case. Lio has been on paid administrative leave since October, and an internal affairs investigation into her remains “active and ongoing.” Lio joined the force in 2002, the department said.

Records from the Norfolk district attorney’s office show Lio’s name has been added to a list of officers whose credibility may be undermined in court. There are 50 state troopers and municipal police officers on the list.


Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.