A former Boston police officer, who sustained serious injuries after his colleagues beat him in a case of mistaken identity over 25 years ago, has been appointed as the new head of the city’s police department, Mayor Michelle Wu said in an announcement on Wednesday, per The Associated Press.
Michael Cox, who previously served as the police chief in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will officially start work as Boston’s new police commissioner next month. The 57-year-old labeled his appointment as an “emotional moment.”
“I think this is a very exciting time. I think the officers need someone to support them,” Cox told reporters Wednesday. “And I’m going to their biggest cheerleader.”
Cox served on the Boston police force for 30 years before he took up the position at Ann Arbor in 2019. He is said to have risen through the ranks while he was with the Boston Police Department. But that was after he fought to ensure justice was served in the wake of the beating he suffered at the hands of his colleagues. Cox, who was 29 at the time of the incident, sustained serious injuries.
Cox was partaking in an undercover operation when officers were notified about a shooting incident. The 57-year-old, who was in plainclothes at the time, went after the suspect after he saw him. But as the suspect was climbing over a fence, Cox was hit from behind when he attempted to grab him. Cox said his colleague officers punched and kicked him. He sustained injuries to his head and kidney damage in the aftermath of the incident.
“It was humiliating what happened to me,” Cox told former Boston Globe reporter Dick Lehr in a book he wrote about the beating, The Associated Press reported.
“There’s no reason to treat anyone like that. And then to just leave them. And if they do it to me — another police officer — would they do it to another person if they got away with it?” said Cox.
Cox said that though his colleagues tried to sweep the beating under the rug, the incident still became public. He also said he was subjected to harassment to get him to say nothing about the beating. An injury report by the department claimed Cox cracked his head after he fell on a frozen puddle.
Cox on Wednesday said he did not leave the police force after the beating because he wanted to try and make things better.
“Since then in 1995, I have dedicated my life to making sure that both the Boston police department and policing in general has grown and learned … to make sure that we have structures and mechanisms in place to make sure that we never repeat that kind of incident against anyone,” Cox said.
The new police head said he aims to diversify Boston police and also ensure officers have a feeling of support while on the job.