Cop Watch

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Boston Police Commander Accused Before

BOSTON -- To some, Deputy Superintendent Robert E. O'Toole Jr. is a cop's cop, a 36-year police veteran who commands respect from his troops. To others, he's a rogue cop with a temper.

"There's certainly some kind of impulse-control problem with him," said Howard Friedman, a Boston attorney who represented Rodney Armstrong, the man O'Toole slapped. "A supervisor isn't supposed to jump in and grab someone on his own, and worse is a supervisor who uses excessive force in front of all the officers he's supposed to be supervising."

Armstrong sued O'Toole and won $5,000 in punitive damages, plus $500 in compensatory damages. Friedman said the jury found that although Armstrong was not injured, O'Toole used excessive force. He was demoted, only to be reinstated years later by current police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole, who is of no relation.

Robert O'Toole's lawyer, Timothy Burke, said O'Toole fired four rounds from the compressed-air gun, but did not fire the shot that killed Snelgrove.