The Massachusetts State Police trooper who fired his rifle during a police confrontation in which a Cape Verdean ATV driver was injured in Boston on Saturday has a long history of posting racist and profane comments on a website called MassCops, including some in support of police officers who shoot suspects.
“Note to [expletive] scumbags!” wrote Trooper Matthew Sheehan, using the screenname “Big Irish,” in a July 2012 posting about an incident in Worcester in which a state trooper shot and killed a man who allegedly drove at him. “‘You try and run us over and you will die!!!! Good shoot ALL DAY LONG!!!!!!!”
Sheehan sprinkled his posts as Big Irish with biographical information that the Globe verified as Sheehan’s, including his birthday, hometown, and work history. He mentioned taking a Globe reporter on a ride-along and was photographed for the story. Two people with knowledge also identified Sheehan as Big Irish.
An official with knowledge said Sheehan’s computer has been seized by State Police.
State Police spokesman David Procopio said in a statement that the department has opened an “immediate investigation” into the posts.
The department also took Sheehan’s department-issued equipment, Procopio said, including his use-of-force equipment such as guns, his cruiser, and any job-issued electronics.
Sheehan has been on paid leave in accordance with department policy since Saturday. After Globe reporters alerted State Police to the Big Irish postings, Procopio said the department scheduled a duty status hearing for Friday, which will determine whether he should be placed on a a different status during the investigation, such as restricted duty, suspension with pay, or suspension without pay.
“The tone and nature of these posts are repugnant and clearly do not reflect the values, ideals and opinions of the Massachusetts State Police,” Procopio said. “When the investigation is completed, the department will take further action as warranted by the results.”
Attorney Richard Rafferty, who is representing Sheehan on behalf of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, said he could not comment on an ongoing investigation. Sheehan did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Governor Charlie Baker, speaking to reporters Thursday afternoon after The Globe published its story online, said the posts “have no place in law enforcement, no place in public discussion, no place in our community, period.”
“If those posts were issued by someone who’s a member of the state police, they are clearly a violation of the code of conduct and he or she should be fired.”
In one 2012 posting, Sheehan said there was “no reason” why a police officer should ask a person to drop their weapon more than once before shooting. In others, he rants about criminals and, often, people of color, using disparaging language, calling them “deadbeats,” “baby’s momma’s,” “gang banging,” “EBT receiving,” “non GED getting,” and “crack smoking.” In another from 2012, in which he imagined a vigil after a police shooting, he referred to attendees as “None of Your Bidzness Rapper’s Delight Association.”
Sheehan fired his rifle Saturday while state troopers and Boston police tried to stop a large group of between 25 and 35 people riding dirt bikes and ATVs in and out of traffic and in the wrong direction near the Exit 18 ramp of I-93 South. ATV driver Aderito Monteiro, 28, was wounded in the foot.