Road rage incidents are far too common, but one in Boston is raising eyebrows because it involved a police officer.
According to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, 37-year old Boston Police Officer Christopher Curtis pleaded guilty to a variety of charges following a road rage incident that occurred on March 1, 2019 while he was traveling on Interstate 93 South near Stoneham.
Following the incident, “Curtis used his position as a Boston police officer to run the victim’s license plate and sent the victim a traffic citation in the mail a week later. Included with the $790 (£583 / €690) ticket was a threatening, handwritten note challenging the victim to dispute the ticket.”
Court documents show the note on the “phony traffic ticket” called the victim an “ass hat” and said they tried to push Curtis’ truck off the road “just to get in the left lane.” The note also claimed the other driver was traveling more than 90 mph (145 km/h) in a 65 mph (105 km/h) zone.
Curtis’ downfall was threats of “see you in court” and “try fighting this… I dare you!” Instead of being intimidated, the other driver appealed the ticket and Woburn District Court officials “found several mistakes and irregularities with the citation.” That’s putting it mildly, but court officials notified the Massachusetts State Police who then got in touch with the Boston Police Department’s Anti-Corruption Unit. Their investigation determined Curtis was the one who “forged and mailed the ticket.”
When questioned, Curtis initially denied involvement. However, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office notes his story changed once he was presented with evidence of his guilt. At that point, he admitted to detectives that he wrote the ticket.
During a court appearance on Thursday, Curtis pled guilty to charges of forgery, uttering, false report by a public employee, obtaining criminal offender record information under false pretenses, witness intimidation, and misleading an investigation. Despite that lengthy list of crimes, Judge Michael Doolin only sentenced Curtis to one year of probation and restitution of $525 (£388 / €458), which the “victim was forced to pay during his efforts to fight the ticket in court.”
That’s a slap on the wrist, even though Curtis was also ordered not to have any contact with the victim. His convictions were also reported to the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission for “potential action regarding his retirement benefits.” Furthermore, Curtis’ name was added to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office Law Enforcement Automatic Discovery database, which “identifies law enforcement officers whose credibility as a potential witness has been called into question.”
While Curtis seems to have gotten off lightly, Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin R. Hayden noted that “This individual now stands convicted of felony offenses that bar him from acting as a member of law enforcement in the future.” He added, “The public puts their trust in members of law enforcement with the expectation that they will use the power and authority of their position for the protection and betterment of the communities they are sworn to serve. When an officer abuses their authority, as Officer Curtis did in this case, we must ensure that they are held accountable for their offenses and for their breach of the community’s trust.”