Following the Red Sox victory in the American League Championship Series last October, thousands of exuberant fans rallied outside of Fenway Park. When the crowd became unruly, police officers fired several pepper spray balls at the revelers. One of those balls struck a 21-year-old college student in the eye killing her. At the time she was shot, she was simply standing on the sidewalk and waiting for the crowd to disperse so that she could retrieve her car from a nearby garage. The City of Boston has agreed to pay the girlÃs family $5.1 million as compensation for her death.
A report issued yesterday by an independent commission strongly criticized the police department for a number of flawed decisions including: having a deficient plan for crowd control; improper use of the pepper ball weapon by several officers; a failure to appreciate the fact that a person could be seriously injured or killed by the weapon; permitting inadequately trained or uncertified officers to use the weapon; and an undermined chain of command. Five officers face disciplinary charges.
None of the 22 officers trained to use the weapon had been adequately instructed as when the weapon should be fired. The panel recommended a national study on the safety of the weapon and certification standards for its use. The weapon is sold in the United States by FNH U.S.A., a subsidiary of Herstal S.A. in Belgium.