A Massachusetts clerk magistrate has allowed a case against former Brockton Police Chief Emanuel Gomes to move forward over a three-vehicle crash Gomes was involved in last year.
At an hourslong hearing Monday, the official found probable cause for negligent operation of motor vehicle driving on a public highway. Clerk Magistrate Michelle Kelley said this was the first time she had "ever seen a case like this."
She did not find probable cause for another charge in question, attempting to falsify citation.
Though clerk magistrate hearings are typically held behind closed doors, this one was opened to the public following a successful legal argument by the NBC10 Investigators, who have been covering the case.
An attorney for Gomes, John McLaughlin, said after the hearing they disagreed with the determination but would take the case "to its next step." Asked what the chief has to say to the victims in the crash, McLaughin said, "We have nothing to say."
The case centers around a serious highway wreck in May 2021 that Gomes caused in his department vehicle, according to the crash report.
The hearing was brought after a private citizen, who has no connection to the crash, sought the criminal charges. Sean Sheridan said in his closing argument that this is a case where a reckless driver wasn't held accountable.
Marie Betty Francois, who was hurt in the crash, testified during the hearing at Wrentham District Court. She said after the hearing she was nervous, and that it was the first time she was face to face with Gomes.
State police did not cite Gomes for the crash, which legal experts have described as “shocking.” The incident flew under the radar for almost a year until an NBC10 Boston investigation.
More from the NBC10 Investigators' probe of former Chief Gomes
Brockton’s mayor has defended the city’s handling of the crash, saying it “followed all appropriate procedures.”
Gomes retired in January after a 36-year year career with the police department and is now collecting a pension of $156,130.
Outside Wrentham District Court Monday, community activist Bri Nichols celebrated the ruling: "We need this kind of accountability, transparency."
According to the state police crash report, Gomes’ vehicle was traveling on the on-ramp from Interstate 495 to get onto Route 24 northbound.
For an unknown reason, the report said the chief veered off the ramp and struck a vehicle in the breakdown lane, Francois', before side-swiping another car and causing it to flip on its side.
Three adults and a toddler went to the hospital after the wreck. The police chief refused medical treatment and got a ride home with a tow truck driver. The crash does not appear on his RMV driving record.