BOSTON (AP) — Two Boston police officers were hospitalized after they were allegedly attacked by seven teenagers, all family members, in a Roxbury apartment complex when the officers tried to arrest one of them, authorities said Tuesday.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said the officers, a woman and a man, were "badly roughed up" in Monday's attack but were recovering. Both have since been released from the hospital. Their names have not been made public.
Evans said he expects the two officers will be off work for some time.
Mayor Martin Walsh said he does not believe the assault has anything to do with rising national tensions over police conduct following the killings of unarmed men in Missouri and New York City.
The police commissioner agreed but added: "It's troubling to me that all this animosity is geared toward our department because we work our hardest every day to make sure the streets of Boston are as safe as possible."
Evans said the officers were attacked when they went to the apartment Monday morning and tried to arrest 19-year-old Woobenson Morisset on violating the terms of his release in three pending cases. One case included a charge of assault and battery of a police officer. The Suffolk County prosecutor said Morisset is accused of punching an officer in December 2013 who was trying to arrest him for an attempted home break-in.
Evans said Morisset, his 18-year-old brother Lorcen Morisset, and five others were arrested Monday.
According to a police report, Morisset engaged in a "violent fight" with officers before his family members got involved. The officers were "kicked, punched and choked by numerous suspects."
Evans said the officers used pepper spray to fight off their attackers until other officers arrived, but they never drew their guns.
The Morisset brothers pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two misdemeanor counts each of assault and battery on a police officer. The older brother was released on $500 bail; Lorcen Morisset was released on his own recognizance. Prosecutors say they will seek additional charges of felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Before the arraignment, Lorcen Morisset told news reporters that the group didn't attack the two officers.
"That's a lie. We didn't touch them," he said outside court.
He said police began to beat Woobenson Morisset after the brothers asked the officers to produce the arrest warrant. He said he recorded the confrontation on his cellphone, which police seized. He said four of the teenagers hid in an apartment and were not involved in the confrontation.
Asked about Lorcen Morisset's allegations, Suffolk County District Attorney spokesman Jake Wark said in an email: "With regard to those claims, the fact that seven co-defendants were sent to court while two police officers were sent to the hospital speaks for itself."
The other teenagers — a 17-year-old boy and four girls, ages 13, 14, 15, and 16 — pleaded not guilty to assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, and other delinquency charges in juvenile court Tuesday. A judge set bail at $500 for the 17-year-old and $1 for the other juveniles, with that amount to be posted only by their parents.
The next court date for the five teens is Feb. 12. The Morisset brothers are due in court March 12.