Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court orders new hearing in brutality case
BOSTON (AP) — More than 13 years after a convenience store owner accused a Springfield police officer of beating her and three others, the highest court in Massachusetts has ordered a new hearing to assess civil damages.
Lucy Jones contended in a lawsuit that Officer Ronald Boykan burst into her store in June 1999, forced his way into a restricted area and arrested two of Jones’ adult children.
Jones and her children said they lost their store and suffered physical and emotional injuries when Boykan beat them. In 2004, a judge issued a default judgment after the city did not respond to the lawsuit and ordered the city to pay $1 million in damages. The award was later overturned, but it was reinstated by the state Appeals Court in 2011.
Nicole Jones and William Owens were charged with disorderly conduct and assault and battery on a police officer, but were acquitted by a jury.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Judicial Court ordered a new hearing to determine damages against the city and Boykan. The high court found that a lower court judge’s original assessment of damages was inadequate.
The SJC said the judge acknowledged he based his assessment entirely on the request and representations of Jones’ lawyer.
“The record and, in particular, the transcript of the hearing on damages do not reflect that the motion judge had before him evidence sufficient to justify a damages award of $1 million,” Justice Margo Botsford wrote for the court in the 3-2 ruling.
Jones’ lawyer and an attorney representing the city did not return calls seeking comment.
Boykan had said he was looking for a suspect he believed was inside the convenience store.