The off-duty officer captured on video roughing up a pedestrian in the Back Bay on Tuesday has twice before been investigated on allegations that he used excessive force, according to Boston police department records.
A video posted on Facebook this week shows Edward P. Barrett, a patrol officer in West Roxbury and a 20-year veteran of the department, on top of the pedestrian with his knee on the man’s back, leading the police department to investigate the incident.
“The actions of the officer are being investigated by internal affairs,” Boston police spokesman Lieutenant Detective Michael McCarthy said Thursday. But, he added, “we don’t condone pedestrians taking action the way this pedestrian did. We can take a minute to remind people that it’s never a good idea.”
The scuffle allegedly began when the 54-year-old pedestrian struck Barrett’s car with an umbrella as the officer turned onto Arlington Street.
Barrett could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The name of the pedestrian has not been released by the police department, and he has not been charged with a crime.
In 2005 and again in 2006, the police department investigated use of force complaints filed against Barrett. Details of those complaints were not provided by the department, but neither was found to be valid.
In 2011, a conviction against a man accused of assaulting Barrett and another officer was overturned because a judge did not allow testimony about statements made by officers at the scene that were allegedly profane and racially offensive. The court filing does not specify which officers made the alleged remarks.
According to court records, Barrett and other officers were arresting Scotty Santos and his brother in 2006 when Barrett said he felt Santos’ hand on his weapon and warned other officers that Santos had his gun, even though he did not. Barrett struck Santos across the nose with his flashlight at least twice and another officer hit Santos on the back of his head with his flashlight.
Barrett testified that he told other officers that Santos had his gun “just as a warning” even though Santos never took the gun and there was no struggle for it, according to court records.
Stephen Harlowe, 47, recorded Tuesday’s scuffle and posted the video of Barrett and the pedestrian online.
According to Harlowe’s account of the confrontation, after the pedestrian hit Barrett’s car, Barrett chased the man down the street, jumped on him, and slammed his head on the ground. The pedestrian said the officer cut him off; Barrett argued that the man did not have the right-of-way.
In the video, Barrett is seen pulling the man up by his shirt collar and walking him several blocks to Arlington and Boylston streets where the confrontation began. He told the man he was under arrest.
According to the police report, Barrett told police he had a green light as he turned right onto Arlington Street in his personal vehicle, when the pedestrian “struck his vehicle’s right rear driver’s side window as he was crossing illegally against the green light.”
The pedestrian told police that Barrett “did have a green signal, but he was upset that [the officer] did not allow him to cross ahead of him and struck the window with his umbrella.”
According to the report, “A large vertical scratch was initially visible but was able to be wiped from the surface of the glass.”
Mayor Martin J. Walsh praised the police department for investigating Barrett’s actions during an appearance on Radio Boston on Thursday, while also chastising the pedestrian.
“You can’t be hitting people’s cars, whether it’s a police officer’s car or not a police officer’s car with an umbrella,” Walsh said. “That’s something you can’t do.”