Boston officer once beaten by police named as new commissioner

FILE PHOTO: Authorites speak about the march by supporters of the white nationalist group Patriot Front in Boston

By Tyler Clifford

(Reuters) -Michael Cox, a former Boston police officer who was once beaten by colleagues who mistook him for a suspect, was named by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu to lead the largest police department in Massachusetts.

At a news conference announcing his appointment as commissioner, Cox, who is Black, said that he was a victim of "unconstitutional policing" in 1995. He likened the beating incident to other cases of police brutality that minorities have faced across the United States.

"I was a victim of that, but that's not who I am," said Cox, a Boston native and a 30-year veteran of the Boston police force who left the department in 2019 after serving in a variety of roles.

Cox, who has been serving as head of the Ann Arbor Police Department in Michigan, will become Boston's 44th police commissioner on Aug. 15 and the third Black man to hold the position.

In a 2020 interview, Cox detailed the events leading to the beating 27 years ago.

While serving as an undercover officer in the Boston police gang unit and chasing a shooting suspect on foot, officers arriving at the scene mistook Cox for the suspect. They kicked and punched Cox, leaving him with head and kidney injuries, he said in the WBZ-TV interview.

Despite what Cox viewed as the police department's attempt to cover up the incident, he said he was undeterred in pursuing his law enforcement career.

"I chose to stay because I believe in policing in a community-friendly way," he said on Wednesday, vowing to improve the department's relationship with minority communities. "The reality is me leaving was not going to help."

Cox is an FBI National Academy graduate and has master's degrees in criminal justice from Curry College and business administration from Boston University.

The appointment comes more than a year after Boston's then acting Mayor Kim Janey fired Dennis White as police commissioner following an investigation into domestic abuse allegations made by his wife. White denied the accusations, which date back more than 20 years.

(Reporting by Tyler Clifford in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)