In 2012, the Boston Police Department was forced to rehire Baltazar “Tate” DaRosa two years after stripping him of his police powers for what the department said was his role in a murder. One year after he joined the department, DaRosa was asked to help investigate the 2003 killing of his cousin, who was ambushed by a masked gunman as he sat in a car with his girlfriend. DaRosa, then 25, and his cousin had relatives in Cape Verde, a group of islands off West Africa. Frustrated at their inability to generate leads in the tightknit Cape Verdean community, detectives asked DaRosa to help.
“[The detective] sent me around asking family members and Cape Verdeans, but being a police officer, no one really told me” anything about the case, DaRosa later told investigators, according to internal affairs records and arbitration documents.
On a cold night in January 2005, DaRosa was off duty at the Copa Grande Oasis, a nightclub outside Boston, records show.
DaRosa was to have been working but had called in sick. He and Carlos DePina — the brother of DaRosa’s murdered cousin — were at the club together. Also at the club that night was a man named Jose Lopes, a known gang member who eventually would be identified as a suspect in the killing of DaRosa’s cousin.
The officer, his cousin DePina and two friends drank and danced until the club lights came on about 1:45 a.m., signaling closing time. DaRosa headed out to his car and popped in a CD as he waited for DePina to return.
But when DePina arrived at the car, he turned and walked back toward a group of people in the parking lot, according to DaRosa’s account.
About five minutes later, his cousin ran back to the car “out of breath,” saying he had heard gunshots, DaRosa said. DaRosa, with DePina as a passenger, drove away, passing a police cruiser with flashing lights speeding toward the club.
Back in the parking lot, Lopes was dying from numerous gunshot wounds to the chest and back. Several witnesses told police they saw people run to DaRosa’s car, records show. Another witness told police of seeing DaRosa driving from the scene with the shooting suspect in the car.
The department placed DaRosa on paid administrative leave and opened an internal investigation. But DaRosa refused to cooperate, invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination, records show.
In July 2005, five months after the killing, DaRosa was arrested, charged with being an accessory to murder and placed on unpaid administrative leave by the department. His cousin, who is still at large, was charged with murder.
In September 2006, a jury acquitted DaRosa.
After his trial, DaRosa agreed to cooperate with internal affairs investigators, telling them he thought his cousin was mistaking some other sound when he said he heard shots. He also expressed regret for not stopping to help police. “I assumed that if something did happen that the cruisers were there for it,” he said.
Detectives later learned that DaRosa and his cousin DePina had been arrested at the club during a Cape Verdean-themed night three months before the shooting. Police said that DaRosa’s cousin had been drunk and causing a disturbance and that DaRosa had bloodshot eyes and reeked of alcohol. At the station, police eventually let the men go.
The internal investigation of DaRosa’s possible role the night of the shooting was completed in 2007, and in December 2010, the department fired DaRosa, saying both events at the nightclub had violated department policies — abuse of alcohol, neglect of duty, and a lack of truthfulness, records show.
DaRosa appealed the firing. His union attorney argued that there was no proof DaRosa used his influence to interfere with his cousin’s arrest months before the shooting or that DaRosa knew Lopes was at the club the night of the shooting or that he had suspected his cousin was the shooter.
In July 2012, after a three-day, closed-door hearing at City Hall, arbitrator Richard G. Boulanger, a Bostonarea lawyer, sided with the union. He concluded that DaRosa “was not poised as a get-away driver or that he had knowledge that Carlos was involved in Jose’s shooting.”
Nearly two years after his firing, and seven years after the shooting, DaRosa was reinstated and awarded $50,111 in lost pay and overtime, records show.
DaRosa and a union attorney did not respond to requests for comment.
“I feel very happy for Baltazar,” Bryan Decker, a lawyer who handled the case for the police union on DaRosa’s behalf, told a local reporter at the time. “He’s an upstanding member of the community, and I think that he is just excited to get back to work helping the people of Boston.”
Today, DePina is a fugitive, believed to have fled the country. His cousin DaRosa is a bike patrol officer.
Former Boston police commissioner Kathleen O’Toole, who suspended DaRosa, said: “As a career police officer and member of the bar, I certainly respect our criminal and civil justice systems, but I’ve often been very frustrated when seeing thoughtful, sensible disciplinary decisions overturned.” O’Toole left Boston in 2006 and is now Seattle police chief.
Boston police officer Baltazar DaRosa enters court in 2005 for arraignment on a charge of accessory to murder after the fact.