Boston police officer gets probation for racially-motivated assault on Uber driver

BOSTON (WHDH) – A Boston police officer convicted of a racially-motivated assault on an Uber driver was sentenced Tuesday to three years of probation.

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Suffolk Superior Court jurors last week convicted Michael Doherty, 43, of two counts of assault and battery for striking the driver, a 28-year-old Revere man who was working on Jan. 4, 2015.

“The defendant’s hate-filled, racial bias of the moment is extremely troubling to this court. It has no place in a civilised society, which the defendant took an oath to protect and serve,” Suffolk Superior Court Judge Linda Giles said.

Doherty, who was off-duty at the time of the incident, was also convicted of assault and battery for purposes of intimidation, reflecting his use of racial and ethnic slurs during the confrontation.

The victim, Luis Blanco, gave a brief statement at the sentencing and spoke about the emotional impact that the case has had on him.

“I definitely don’t want the worst for Mr. Doherty. I truly don’t,” Blanco said. “The way I look at it is if this person was armed, would they have killed me that night? My daughter was a few months old. I know you don’t agree with it, but that’s the way I look at it. I believe something needs to be done.”

In addition to probation, Giles ordered Doherty to remain alcohol-free, submit to random alcohol testing, perform 100 hours of community service at the Greater Boston Food Bank, complete an anger management program and stay away from the victim and his family.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans previously issued a statement following Doherty’s conviction. The statement reads in part:

“Today’s decision sends a strong and definitive message that police officers are not above the law and must answer for their actions should they choose to behave in a way that places the public in danger, whether they are on duty or off.”

During the trial, prosecutors introduced evidence and testimony proving that Doherty took an Uber from Charlestown to South Boston, where he told the driver they were in the wrong location and used a racial epithet in the verbal exchange that followed.  The evidence proved that Doherty struck the victim, who exited the vehicle to escape the assault.

Prosecutors said as the victim flagged down a passing car driven by another Uber driver, Doherty entered the victim’s Toyota Prius and drove away. The victim entered the second Uber and the two men followed Doherty until he stopped and exited the vehicle. Doherty then continued to use racial and ethnic slurs in a second physical confrontation.

Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said Doherty’s actions were a disgrace to all police officers.

“The defendant’s conduct has no place in law enforcement, on or off the job,” Conley said. “It was an unprovoked crime against the victim, who was only trying to do his job, and it was a slap in the face to countless police officers who approach their duties with integrity and professionalism. As this indictment and verdict made clear, Suffolk prosecutors take these cases seriously. No victim or survivor of racially-motivated violence should ever be reluctant to report it.”

Doherty later turned himself into police after fleeing the scene.

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