In September of 1993, a Boston Detective was shot five times in Roslindale, Massachusetts. Police Commissioner William Bratton stated that “there were some elements that would lead one to describe it as execution-style…an assassination”. Others also stated that the person who killed the officer may have been sending a message. Despite the large amount of individuals who may have retaliated against the officer’s rough tactics, the department pursued the crime as if it was a random act. 19-year-old Sean Ellis and a minor were picked up for the crime.
Police misconduct was a huge contributing factor to Ellis’ conviction. The first instance of this was the alleged tampering of the victim’s cell phone by a fellow detective. This same detective, along with other members of the force, presented an eyewitness that claimed she saw a young African-American man peering into the police car while she was buying a bar of soap. This witness was found to be the niece of a woman that one detective was living with. This woman could not identify Ellis in police photos at first, but after speaking to the detective who lived with her aunt, she was able to identify him. Police also stated that finger prints on the car belonged to Ellis.
Ellis had two trials that ended in a hung jury. However, at the end of his third trial, Ellis was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life without parole. Ellis’ defense team argued that there was a conflict of interest in regards to the detectives that worked on the case. The detectives were involved in long-term schemes including the falsification of search warrants in order to rob drug dealers. Because of police misconduct, and the fact that no physical evidence linked Ellis to the crime, Ellis was granted a new trial in 2014 and released on bail in June of 2015.