A former MBTA Transit Police officer who allegedly beat a homeless man at the Ashmont Station in Dorchester last summer and two sergeants accused of helping him cover it up were indicted Wednesday by a Suffolk County grand jury, authorities said.
Dorston Bartlett, 65, of Lynn, was indicted for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, civil rights violations, and other offenses; Sergeants David Finnerty, 43, of Rutland, and Kenny Orcel, 55, of Chelmsford, were indicted for accessory after the fact to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and filing a false police report as a public official, according to a joint statement from the Suffolk district attorney’s office and the Transit Police.
District Attorney Rachael Rollins said the officers’ alleged actions were “. . . unacceptable at every level.”
“The charges reflect an unprovoked armed assault by a uniformed officer on a vulnerable member of our community, followed by a joint venture with supervising officers to cover up that crime,” she said.
“Actions like these undermine the hard work of countless honest, professional police officers and seriously erode trust in law enforcement. Crimes against public integrity are some of the most important that my office can bring on behalf of victims and our community, and I take them extremely seriously.”
In the early morning hours of July 27, Bartlett allegedly beat a 32-year-old homeless man with his baton at Ashmont Station, then falsely arrested him. The two sergeants allegedly helped him write a false police report to cover up the use of excessive force and the false arrest, according to the statement.
On the same morning that the police report was approved by Orcel, a member of the Transit Police command staff learned of Bartlett’s use of force and reviewed both a preliminary draft of the report and video from cameras at Ashmont station, according to the district attorney’s office.
The command staff member then ordered the victim released from custody and the criminal investigation into the conduct of the Transit Police personnel was launched. The victim was not charged.
Bartlett was placed on leave immediately after the incident and retired over the winter, Transit Police Superintendent Richard Sullivan said. Finnerty and Orcel were placed on leave in the fall as the investigation unfolded. The three are expected to be arraigned on March 27, authorities said.
Transit Police Chief Kenneth Green also condemned the officers’ alleged conduct.
“Words cannot express the extreme disappointment I have in the officers who violated the victim and the public’s trust in such an egregious manner,” Green said in the statement. “However, I refuse to allow the corrupt actions of these individuals to tarnish the vast majority of the men and women of the Transit Police who day in and day out wear their badges and perform their duties with honor and integrity.”
A person with knowledge of the case said Transit Police investigators are looking at a fourth Transit Police officer who may be involved, who may have tried to intimidate the victim after the incident.
According to the state’s payroll records, Bartlett’s pay for 2018 topped $121,000, while Finnerty made more than $135,000 and Orcel took home more than $138,000. Attempts to reach all three individuals were not successful Wednesday evening.
David E. Condon, an attorney for the MBTA Police Association, said the union was not going to comment on an ongoing criminal investigation.
Misconduct within the Transit Police ranks has troubled the agency in the past. In 2017, a former Transit Police officer, Jennifer Garvey, was sentenced to six months in jail for beating a woman in 2014 and then leveling several false accusations against her in a report, authorities said.
A scathing consultant’s report suggested that Transit Police leadership shared some responsibility for Garvey’s conduct. Specifically, the report found that Garvey’s superiors ignored repeated warnings that she was prone to use excessive force from the time she was hired in 2008, including 11 formal complaints about her conduct.
Last year, Transit Police Officer James Floyd was arraigned on two counts of indecent assault and battery, one count of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, and one count of intimidation of a witness in connection with a pair of North Station attacks. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and resigned his position to avoid facing termination.