The Boston Globe

Canton police chief is cited for striking pedestrian with her car

- By Travis Andersen and John R. Ellement GLOBE STAFF Travis Andersen can be reached at John R. Ellement can be reached at

Canton Police Chief Helena Rafferty was cited for failing to yield to a 67-year-old pedestrian whom she struck with a townowned SUV on the evening of Feb. 16 in Wrentham as the man was walking in a crosswalk while wearing a reflective vest and using his cane, according to authoritie­s.

Incident reports released Monday from Wrentham police in response to Globe inquiries said the crash occurred around 6:32 p.m. in the area of Creek and South streets.

The victim was identified as Wrentham resident Michael C. Barry, who was taken to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment after suffering an abrasion to his head and complainin­g of left knee pain, one report said.

“Michael was walking with a cane on South Street wearing a reflective yellow vest and had just entered the roadway/crosswalk South Street at Creek Street when he was struck by” Rafferty’s Ford Explorer, which records show is owned by the town of Canton, the report said.

Rafferty told police she was turning left onto Creek Street from South Street and didn’t see Barry prior to the crash, according to the report. She indicated that she immediatel­y put the SUV into park and got out to assist Barry without moving the vehicle before the arrival of responding officers.

In addition, Rafferty requested a breathalyz­er test at the scene for herself, according to the report.

“The result was 0.00,” the report said, adding that Rafferty “was issued a civil citation” that night for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

Barry’s lawyer Seth Jacobs said his client spent about two weeks in a hospital and in rehab.

“He’s appreciati­ve” to the first responders, Jacobs said. “He’s dealing with some major injuries that will take a long time to recover from.”

The crash was first reported by Aidan Kearney, the blogger known as Turtleboy, who has earned notoriety for his aggressive reporting on the murder case pending against Karen Read, who is accused of backing her SUV into her boyfriend and leaving him for dead during a blizzard in Canton in 2022.

Read has pleaded not guilty and her lawyers say she’s being framed. Her trial is slated to begin April 16, while Kearney is facing separate charges of allegedly intimidati­ng and harassing witnesses in the case. He has also pleaded not guilty.

On the night of the Feb. 16 crash in Wrentham, police said, officers took photograph­s at the crime scene.

“There was a white scuff mark on the passenger front bumper from either Michael’s person or his cane,” the report said. “No other damage was noted to [motor vehicle] #1, and it did not require a tow as it was operable. I observed the area of the crash to be poorly lit with only one fluorescen­t light.”

A civilian witness, who asked not to be identified, told officers that Rafferty was “not operating erraticall­y before the crash.”

The witness later sent police an emailed account of what she saw. She wrote in the message that she was driving on Creek Street when she observed a yellow reflective vest fall to ground as she approached the intersecti­on.

“It looked like he was already in the crosswalk when he was hit,” the witness wrote.

The witness said she “saw the driver of the car get out of her car right away to assist/check the person who had been hit. I got out of my car to go over and by then there was another gentleman who had stopped too. They said 911 had been called and were telling the man who was hit not to get up or move his head.”

In a statement released on her behalf Monday, the chief expressed her “sincere and continued concern” for Barry “whom I accidental­ly struck” while driving to her home in the town-issued vehicle.

“As I proceeded to make the left turn onto Creek St., the vehicle lights caught the reflective vest of a person in the crosswalk. I immediatel­y applied my brakes, but unfortunat­ely, the car made contact with him, knocking him to the ground,’’ she said.

She noted in the statement that she immediatel­y offered aid to Barry, stayed at the scene, and passed a breathalyz­er test conducted by a Wrentham police officer. She said she has since paid the citation issued to her for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

The chief said that she “immediatel­y notified Canton officials as to what happened.”

The chief, in an apparent reference to the controvers­y that has engulfed both her department and the town of Canton, said she should have issued a statement sooner.

She became police chief in Canton in June 2022 and joined the force in 1989, according to the department website.

Canton Town Meeting members voted in November by a 903-800 margin to conduct an outside review of the Police Department, amid the swirling controvers­y over the Read investigat­ion, which was led by State Police.

Read’s attorneys say her boyfriend, Boston police officer John O’Keefe, was fatally beaten inside a Canton home owned at the time by a fellow Boston police officer and that his body was planted outside in an effort to frame their client. Federal authoritie­s have launched a separate probe of the state law enforcemen­t handling of the case.

Rafferty said shortly after the Town Meeting vote that she welcomed the review of the department, which she said would “end the wild speculatio­n” surroundin­g her department. The status of the review wasn’t immediatel­y clear Monday.

In an email to the Globe on Monday, Wrentham Police Chief Bill McGrath wrote that the police reports on the February crash have always been available as public records.

 ?? WRENTHAM POLICE ?? Police Chief Helena Rafferty’s vehicle, after hitting pedestrian.
WRENTHAM POLICE Police Chief Helena Rafferty’s vehicle, after hitting pedestrian.

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