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Boston police Sergeant Brian Dunford caught on video physically assaulting a child, report says

Officer placed on administrative leave, facing criminal charges

Cellphone video from last December shows Boston police Sergeant Brian Dunford physically assaulting a 10-year-old boy who has diagnosed mental health and neurological conditions, court records show, while repeatedly taunting him.

Milton police arrested Dunford, 47, on Tuesday after investigators used a search warrant to gain access to the video on his estranged wife’s cellphone, according to police reports filed in court. Jennifer Dunford, 45, filed for divorce on April 29, nearly three weeks after she also was arrested in Dorchester by Boston police for allegedly attacking her estranged husband, court records show.

The December video shows Brian Dunford pinning the boy down on his back while striking him on the face and head with open hands, Milton police Detective Valter Pires wrote in his report. The boy’s name is redacted from the police reports.


The video also shows Brian Dunford grabbing the boy by his mouth and jaw, and saying repeatedly, “Do it again and let’s see what happens ... let’s see what you got,” Pires wrote.

Brian Dunford, son of a retired top-ranking supervisor in the Boston Police Department, has a record that includes multiple citizen complaints, including a 2010 use of force allegation for which he was exonerated.

Dunford also was the subject of an internal affairs investigation after a 2008 incident in which a Black firefighter alleged that Dunford and his partner attacked him. Dunford ultimately served a two-day suspension for failing to “accurately document the type or amount of force used” on the firefighter while investigating a domestic disturbance. The firefighter received a $52,500 settlement.

Dunford and his lawyer didn’t respond Wednesday to requests for comment from the Globe.

Jennifer Dunford told Milton police that she recorded the video of the assault on the boy, now 11, the report said.

After viewing the video, Pires sought an arrest warrant for Brian Dunford, who was then taken into custody Tuesday at Boston Police District A-1, according to the Norfolk district attorney’s office. He was arraigned the same day in Quincy District Court, where a judge ordered him to stay away from his wife and two children.


A Boston police spokesman said Tuesday that Brian Dunford has been placed on administrative leave.

Milton police became aware of the video last Friday after Brian Dunford and the boy went to the Milton police station because the child was extremely agitated, according to one of the Milton police reports.

In the station lobby, the boy began attacking Brian Dunford and knocking over items, the report said. Jennifer Dunford arrived at the station, calmed the boy, and told Milton officers the child was upset because her estranged husband had hit him, Lieutenant Brian P. Cherry wrote in his report.

Jennifer Dunford then told officers that she had video of Brian Dunford beating the child and played the clip for police, Cherry wrote. Officer Jason Sullivan wrote that Jennifer Dunford shared the video “in the heat of the moment” and then refused to play it again, saying a lawyer had told her not to give it to investigators.

Jennifer Dunford also told police the Department of Children and Families had been notified of a separate incident when Brian Dunford allegedly handcuffed the boy to a bed. On Wednesday, a spokeswoman said the agency received a report and is investigating.


After seeing the video once, Sullivan wrote that he couldn’t identify either person in the clip and Cherry wrote that he could identify only the boy. Pires viewed the video on Monday in the presence of Jennifer Dunford, who identified Brian Dunford and the boy in the clip, his report said.

Reached Wednesday, Jennifer Dunford declined to comment. Her defense lawyer and divorce attorney didn’t return voicemails.

Boston officers arrested Jennifer Dunford on April 11 at the Dorchester home of her in-laws, retired Boston police superintendent in chief Robert Dunford, and his wife, Dorothy, according to a police report filed in Dorchester Municipal Court.

Speaking to police at his parents’ home, Brian Dunford said he had quarreled with his estranged wife earlier in the day. He told police Jennifer Dunford tried blocking him as he attempted to leave the house in Milton, became aggressive, and grabbed and pulled his shirt, the report said.

He showed police a bruise on his upper right arm that he said he sustained in the struggle.

After leaving Milton, Brian Dunford went to his parents’ house in Dorchester. Jennifer Dunford arrived there a short time later with her dog. Brian Dunford filmed part of her visit, showing police video in which he asks her to leave and tells her his mother is afraid of dogs and doesn’t want her dog in the house, Sergeant Charles MacKinnon wrote in his report.

Brian Dunford videoed his estranged wife as she swiped at the hand his phone was in and then put her dog in her mother-in-law’s bed, MacKinnon wrote.


After the camera stopped recording, Brian Dunford said, Jennifer Dunford tried to attack his mother and scratched the back of his neck, the report said.

MacKinnon determined that Jennifer Dunford “was the dominant aggressor” and charged her with domestic assault and battery. Her next court date is June 16.

Brian and Dorothy Dunford were both granted abuse prevention orders against Jennifer Dunford on April 12, courts records show.

In an affidavit describing alleged abuse, Brian Dunford said he also suffered a “physical assault” by his wife on April 3 in Milton.

Brian Dunford’s abuse prevention order against his estranged wife expired on April 26. The order granted to Dorothy Dunford will remain in effect until April 26, 2022, court records show. Reached Wednesday, she declined to comment.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at Follow her @lauracrimaldi.