As a Boston police officer was being treated for a gunshot to the face Friday night, Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross found himself explaining to a small crowd why officers opened fire on the suspected shooter.
In a YouTube video posted after the incident, Gross is seen offering to “respectfully” explain what happened to a group of bystanders, not seen on camera, who pepper him with occasionally hostile questions.
“Officers did a motor vehicle stop,” Gross explains after waiting for them to quiet down. “As the officer is taking him out the car, he shot the officer in the face, and the officers returned fire. That was it, short and sweet.”
“Y’all don’t have no protocol, any other way?” one young man is heard saying. “You got to shoot somebody?”
Gross interjects: “Did you hear the part where he shot the officer in the face?”
“You’re trained for this though,” says the young man.
The moment provides a stark look at the tension between police and the people who live in the neighborhoods they are sworn to protect—especially in the moments after an officer-involved shooting.
A message left for the YouTube user who uploaded the video was not immediately returned Sunday, but a police spokesperson confirmed that Gross interacted with protesters sometime Friday night.
Officer John T. Moynihan, 34, remained hospitalized Sunday in stable but improving condition. Police had earlier reported him in critical condition with a bullet wound beneath the eye.
The man suspected of shooting him, 41-year-old Angelo West of Hyde Park, was killed at the scene when officers opened fire on him after he shot Moynihan, police said.
In the confrontation with the crowd, Gross is asked why the suspect’s body was left out in the street after he was shot. Gross explains that the body needed to stay in place as part of the investigation.
“If the body’s deceased on the scene, it comes under the jurisdiction of the district attorney’s office, and can’t be removed until the district attorney gives his say so with the medical examiner,” Gross said. “While there, we covered the body, via screen, trying to be respectful so that nobody could look in... covered the body, and that’s it.”
Gross is also asked if the suspect was handcuffed after shots were exchanged.
“I don’t know that. I wasn’t here for that,” Gross says.
A young man also says an officer insulted him and that officers put their hands on him and others while moving them around the crime scene. Gross tells him to complain to internal affairs. The questioner, obviously frustrated with the answer, says he wants Gross to help him himself.
The questioner, who seems to know Gross, tells him he’s cutting off whatever relationship they have had in the past.
“Go back to your pigs,” the young man says. “No more diplomacy. When you see me out, no more peace talks, it’s war right now. No more peace talks. You know what it is now.”
Gross tells the questioner he’s had his “15 seconds of fame,” and walks away.
Officer Brian McNulty, a police spokesman, told Boston.com the department was aware the video was making rounds on social media, but declined to comment on its content.
“We believe [Gross’s] statements stand on their own merit,” McNulty said.