BROCKTON —The Brockton police cruiser, with its lights activated and siren wailing, came speeding up behind a school bus as a group of kindergartners crossed the street. Believing he was following safety protocol, the bus driver kept his lights flashing and Stop sign arm extended.
That’s when the officer reacted in a rage, cursing, smacking the bus door, even putting his hand on his service weapon in a threatening manner. The officer went on to ticket the bus driver, as crying children and their shocked parents looked on, according to an interview with the bus driver and a nine-page letter sent to Mayor Robert F. Sullivan on Feb. 1.
Now the bus driver, Adolfo Depina, has stated his intent to sue the city. Even though the citations for failing to yield right of way and lack of vehicle registration were eventually dismissed, they were issued in bad faith by Officer Jason Mosley, a school police officer, Depina’s lawyer, James P. McKenna, asserted in the letter to the mayor. They caused Depina to get suspended from work, to temporarily lose his driver’s license, to incur a permanent mark on his driving record, and to be transferred to another bus route.
“He wasn’t qualified for the job,” Depina, 56, said of Mosley in an interview at his Brockton home. “He was not prepared to deal with the public. There was no reason to act the way he acted.”
The Sept. 28, 2021, incident just after the school day ended has pitted the bus driver, who has earned the support of school students’ families, against a city administration that, the lawyer alleges, has failed to properly respond to his claims.
Depina made his first request for any documents, reports, or communications about the incident on Feb. 18, 2022. After initially failing to respond, the city produced only a redacted copy of the citation, McKenna said.
The city has also not explained where Mosley was headed at the time of the incident.
A spokesperson for the mayor said that a police internal affairs investigation was conducted, and that Mosley was cleared.
“There was no discipline,” the spokesperson said.
Mosley continues to work for Brockton Public Schools as a school police officer assigned districtwide, the spokesman said.
Sullivan declined to comment on the incident or the Feb. 1 letter.
“The city is prohibited from commenting on matters in litigation,” the mayor said in an e-mail.
Depina said he had many sleepless nights and stress-filled days after the incident with Mosley. For more than a year, Depina, who works for First Student, a bus contractor hired by Brockton Public Schools, says he has been locked in a battle with the city trying to get records about the incident and the officer, to no avail.
“They’ve made a lot of mistakes, and it’s affected me and my family,” Depina said. “I don’t want these things to happen to somebody else. I felt like I was going into depression.”
“Mr. Depina did nothing wrong,” McKenna said. “He was acting to protect the kids. He was doing his job.”
In his e-mail, Sullivan said the city responded to McKenna’s public records request “in accordance with the law.”
Mosley’s summation of the 3:55 p.m. incident near the intersection of Warden Avenue and Winthrop Street was captured briefly in a Brockton police dispatch log.
Mosley wrote that he had lights and sirens activated when a school bus driver “failed to shut his lights off and let me pass.”
“When I rolled down my window to inform him, he became argumentative with me and would not shut his lights off and let me pass,” the log said. “Traffic was congested, and there was no room for me to take an alternate route at that point.”
Mosley wrote that Depina refused to produce his license and registration, prompting Mosley to raise his voice “and speak in a language he could understand.”
Mosley added: “He could have held the kids that did not get off the bus [until] I passed if he saw me coming.”
Depina said he was briefly suspended after the incident, then assigned to a new bus route in Randolph. He said he finished the 2021-22 school year in Randolph and returned to his Brockton route at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.
Soon after Depina was sent to Randolph, Brockton parents who witnessed the incident began asking for his phone number and writing letters supporting Depina and condemning the officer’s actions.
One parent, Higino Lopes, wrote that he and the other parents who were present “did not feel safe by the behavior of this officer.”
Melissa Barros said the officer exited his cruiser in a rage.
“I even observed the police officer put his hand on his weapon, which was very uncalled for,” Barros wrote. “The lack of professionalism and road rage of the police officer put many children and parents at risk.”
Barros added, “Children shouldn’t have to witness this madness.”
Tonya Alanez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @talanez.