Man Accused of Shooting at Boston Police Held Without Bail

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A Boston man charged with trying to gun down police officers during the chaotic aftermath of Sunday's peaceful protests will remain in custody while he awaits trial.

A judge on Wednesday granted a request from Suffolk County prosecutors to hold 37-year-old John Boampong without bail, writing there is clear and convincing evidence his release will endanger the safety of the community.

Prosecutors say Boampong was driving with three passengers early Monday morning when he encountered the police in the area of Boylston Street and Arlington Street, and one struck his windshield with a riot stick.

The Dorchester man is accused of later stopping his car in a nearby alley and firing approximately 10 shots as officers took cover.

Police stopped his car and allegedly found a semiautomatic firearm inside.

During his initial court appearance Monday, a judge questioned whether there was sufficient evidence that Boampong pulled the trigger, or intended to shoot the officers.

He dismissed charges against two people in the car, and postponed reading most of the charges against Boampong, giving the state a Wednesday deadline to shore up its case.

Providing new details Wednesday, Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Caitlin Fitzgerald told a judge that Boampong essentially admitted to firing the gun when he was questioned by police.

"He does state that he was not pointing it at anyone," Fitzgerald said. "He also indicates, essentially, that the reason he did it was because he was so upset that the officers had hit his windshield when they were trying to direct him from going in reverse."

A little after 3 a.m. Monday, members of the police department's Youth Violence Strike Force were in the area of Arlington and Boylston streets attempting to disperse a crowd of looters when they came into contact with Boampong and others in a grey Hyundai Elantra, according to a police report read previously in court.

The occupants of the car were "reluctant to follow the officers' repeated instructions to leave the area" and became verbally combative, Fitzgerald said earlier this week.

"The car then began to go in reverse, jeopardizing the safety of the crowd," she said. "One officer then used his riot stick and struck the top corner of the windshield to get the driver's attention."

The Elantra drove away, but later returned, traveling "at a high rate of speed" past officers on Boylston Street, Fitzgerald said. It passed another vehicle and turned into an alley on Providence Street, she said.

"Officers observed that the car had stopped because they could see its brake lights and, moments later, approximately 10 gunshots rang out in rapid succession, coming from the direction of the Elantra," Fitzgerald said.

Officers took cover until the shooting stopped, then intercepted the Elantra as it came back around the block onto Boylston Street, she said.

Inside, police allegedly found a semiautomatic firearm on the floor in "locked back position," meaning the clip had been emptied, Fitzgerald said.

During a telephone hearing Wednesday, Boampong’s lawyer, Makis Antzoulatos, argued police have no evidence Boampong fired the gun, or aimed at the officers. He presented the judge a photo of the scene, which he said shows that it would have been impossible for his client to strike the officers from the alley where police allege his vehicle stopped because a large building is in the way.

"To suggest that just because the police officers hear shots, he must have been shooting at them ... it's the actual definition of a mere hunch," he said.

Boston Municipal Court Judge Paul Treseler denied a motion Wednesday to dismiss the charges based on a lack of evidence.

Boampong was among 53 people arrested after largely peaceful protests against police brutality turned violent Sunday night, sparking clashes and looting at some Downtown Crossing and Back Bay shops.

Around the country, thousands have voiced outrage following the death last month of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. The death has since been ruled a homicide, and the officer was fired and faces a second-degree murder charge. Three other officers were also charged Wednesday.

In Boston, police leveled the most serious charges stemming from Sunday's unrest against Boampong, who faces 21 counts of armed assault with intent to murder. He was also charged with discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, carrying a loaded firearm, carrying a firearm without a license and failing to stop for police. Not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf to all charges.

A probable cause hearing in Boampong's case is scheduled for July 2.

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