Former Boston police sergeant Shana Cottone failed to assign a protection detail for Mayor Michelle Wu, whose COVID-19 vaccine mandates Cottone railed against for months. On a number of occasions, the 15-year veteran of the department protested in front of the mayor’s home, yelling and screaming through a bullhorn, and on at least one occasion, followed Wu in a car.
Those allegations are just a snapshot of a 38-page summary of an internal affairs investigation against Cottone that the Globe obtained after she was fired last week. The other detailed allegations range from disobeying an order not to record the mayor during a police briefing to refusing to leave pizza shops after violating the city’s COVID-19 mandates.
“I find Sergeant Cottone’s behavior throughout all these cases hindered the Department’s continued efforts to build a trusting relationship with all members of community at a time when policing is under increasingly intense scrutiny,” wrote Deputy Superintendent Richard J. Dahill, in a determination of Cottone’s internal case.
Cottone has said her firing was the culmination of a political witch hunt. Her attorney said recently she would be appealing her termination through arbitration.
Most of Cottone’s allegations stem from her resistance against Wu’s vaccination mandate for city workers, according to police records.
For instance, on Dec. 21, 2021, when asked by a department official about the lack of a protection detail to Wu’s house in Roslindale, she allegedly questioned why officers are protecting the city’s highest elected official, and said she did not believe the department should be doing so because of the mandate, according to police records.
“Oh, what are we going to put a cop up [at the mayor’s house] who’s unvaccinated, who [Mayor Wu] is going to fire next week, that’s [expletive] rich,” Cottone said, according to an internal police report.
According to police documents, despite Cottone’s inclinations, there was “no lapse in coverage of security of the mayor’s house.”
In an apparent reference to the person who told department officials she did not assign a detail to Wu’s house, the documents show Cottone asked “who is the rat” and stated “rats get bats,” a phrase that threatens violence against people who talk to authorities about illegal activities.
Two days later, Cottone allegedly left her area while on-duty to attend a police briefing in a different district where Wu was scheduled to speak. Police documents charge that she did not notify proper authorities when she left and failed to obtain staffing coverage for her absence. At that briefing, a police captain announced that recording of the mayor’s remarks would be prohibited, but Cottone recorded them anyway, according to records.
She subsequently shared the video she recorded with friends, according to police documents.
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Then there are the pizza shop incidents. In January of last year, in Penguin Pizza in Mission Hill, she refused to leave after being asking by an employee who said she was violating indoor mask and vaccine mandates. When an employee called police, she began berating the responding officers, the documents show.
Cottone called one officer a “smartass,” a “rat,” and a “follower,” adding that he didn’t know how to do his job. She called police “really disgusting,” and told one responding officer “you should take that uniform off, you should not be a police officer.” She called at least one officer a “turd,” according to the documents, and told the officers they could leave.
The same day, at Pizzeria Regina on Boylston Street, Cottone and the group she was with refused to wear masks or show proof of vaccination. When police were summoned to the scene, Cottone was once again disrespectful, according to documents. She told Sgt. John Wright he was corrupt, and referred to her fellow officers as “Nazis” and “naughty boys” who were going to lose their jobs.
She called the restaurant manager a liar and a tyrant, and referred to a food attendant as “baldy.”
“The police are not to be enforcing this mandate,” she told the officers there, according to police documents. “You can take yourself and leave. If you’re not gonna stand by your oath, you shouldn’t be on the job. I’m gonna sue you individually.”
While off duty last March, Cottone was among a group of demonstrators protesting the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate at the mayor’s house. They yelled, spoke through bullhorns, and used containers as drums to create noise. Police arrived and told the crowd they could be charged with disturbing the peace if they continued to use the noise-making devices. After that announcement, Cotton continued to yell through a bullhorn, police allege.
When a sergeant was speaking to the group, Cottone allegedly informed protesters that they did not have to abide by the sergeant’s orders.
Two weeks later, at another early morning protest outside of Wu’s home, Cottone followed the mayor in her own car, while yelling through a “noise amplification device,” according to police records.