High court: Boston officer fired for ‘chokehold’ can get job back

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts’ highest court has ruled that a Boston police officer who was fired after he allegedly choked a suspect and later characterized the action as a “semi-bear hug hold” is entitled to reinstatement.

The Supreme Judicial Court’s finding Wednesday upholds a lower court ruling and arbitrator’s finding that Officer David Williams was wrongly terminated.

Justice Geraldine Hines says in the opinion that Williams had tackled Michael O’Brien after he scuffled with another officer in 2009. That officer testified that Hines then put his arm around O’Brien’s neck in a “chokehold.” O’Brien had claimed he couldn’t breathe and began to lose consciousness.

Williams was fired in 2012.

Hines’ says that while Williams used poor judgment, a department rule barring chokeholds might have led to a different outcome in the case.

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