The tale of the tapes: 4 other police officers allegedly witnessed beating of prisoner

By Gordon Davis

A Worcester police officer, Michael Motyka, was arrested recently in Worcester for allegedly violating the civil rights of a Black man being held in the lockup at the Worcester Police Station on Belmont Street. He allegedly beat the handcuffed and shackled victim while calling him racial slurs.

The incident took place in December 2014 and was videotaped by the cameras in the police lock-up.

The Worcester District Attorney’s office has refused to release a copy of the tape to the public.

The spokesman for the DA stated that a special prosecutor will be appointed and that it is policy not to release tapes of criminal acts until after a trial.

The problem with this policy, for this case, is that at least four other police officers allegedly witnessed the beating of the victim by officer Motyka.

And did nothing.

The issue in this case is not only the civil rights violations by officer Motyka but also the civil rights violations of the officers who allegedly witnessed the beating and racial slurs and did nothing to protect the victim.

This is a civil rights violation in itself and a violation of Worcester Police Department policy – which is under the purview of the City of Worcester. The WPD is funded by the Worcester taxpayer. How is our money being spent?

The tape should be released to the public so the public can review the policies and actions of the Worcester Police Department.

The Worcester Police Department, which is responsible for the tape, has the ability to release it. The WPD should be fully transparent on this issue.

The irony of the tape is that the City of Worcester has spent a lot money and used a lot of resources on another tape roiling Worcester: the videotape of the Black Lives Matter protesters at Kelly Square. Another tape reflecting the way Worcester deals with race/racial issues. The City of Worcester will likely not be able to use this tape in court, as it can not be authenticated. Furthermore, the protesters did not beat up anyone and did not use racial slurs, as in the first tape. 

In the BLM protest tape, a motorist might have been “annoyed.” The BLM protesters never ignored any police commands to “disburse,” as the police were not present at the protest. The protesters disbursed on their own volition.

The BLM protesters look like altar boys compared to the Worcester police officers – recorded on an official WPD videotape. Worcester Police Officer Motyka who allegedly beat the handcuffed and shackled prisoner. And the police officers who stood by – and allegedly did nothing as they witnessed blatant police brutality.

In the case of Motyka, the City of Worcester should suspend the police officers who did nothing while police officer Motyka allegedly beat up a shackled prisoner, until their cases are adjudicated. The Motyka tape is a part of the review of violations of Worcester Police Department policy.

These charges are exponentially worse than the charges against the BLM protesters who might have annoyed a motorist.

A defense for the BLM protesters seems to be “legitimate purpose,” which means that there was a need to bring attention to the misconduct of the Worcester Police. The Motyka case is evidence of the legitimate purpose of the protesters.

There is evidence that the City of Worcester is maliciously prosecuting the protesters. Malicious Prosecution is a civil rights violation and it has four elements : 1. commencement of criminal proceedings, 2. the proceedings are adjudicated in the victims favor, 3. There was not probable cause, 4. The proceeding was brought with malice.

This should be investigated by the Department of Justice when it comes to Worcester.

When I first heard of the arrest of Worcester Police Officer Motyka, I was encouraged,  thinking perhaps Worcester had changed its review of police misconduct.  If the review process is taken more seriously by the City, the protesters at Kelly Square had a lot to do with it. Now I am not sure if there is substantive improvement in Worcester government.

Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty has come out against a civilian review board for the Worcester Police Department, even though Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme is open to the possibility. It is time that Mayor Petty realizes he is now part of the problem.

Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus’ refusal to drop the charges against the BLM protesters in light of events shows a “business as usual” policy at Worcester City Hall.