Boston Police Department

Michael Cox's Long Journey Leads Him Back Home to Boston

As an officer with the Boston Police Department in 1995, Michael Cox was savagely beaten by a fellow officer who mistook him for a suspect; after serving as police chief in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Roxbury native was sworn in Monday as Boston's police commissioner

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While new Commissioner Michael Cox is eminently qualified, he is also an improbable choice when you consider his past time with the Boston Police Department.

In 1995, while chasing murder suspects, a fellow officer mistook Cox, then an officer with the department and in plainclothes, for a suspect. Cox was thrown to the ground and savagely beaten at the end of a dead-end street in Mattapan.

Dozens of officers followed the chase to the place where the beating happened, but none would admit to witnessing it — no one would say who did it.

"After this incident, I had a choice: Either quit, leave, or stay," Cox said at his introduction press conference in July. "And I choose to stay."

He didn't, however, give up on trying to hold the relevant brothers in blue accountable. He sued some of them in federal court and won in a jury trial. Those three officers — James Burgio, Ian Daley and David Williams — were all fired. Cox also sued the City of Boston, which settled the suit for $1.3 million.

Eventually, the Roxbury native left Boston to become chief of police in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has returned to be the Commissioner of Police in Boston, being sworn in Monday.

The Boston Police Department has a new top cop after Michael Cox took the oath.

Author and journalist Dick Lehr has written extensively about Cox's story.

"It would be unimaginable to me that, Mike Cox, given what he's been through, would, A. Stay with the department, but then end up as the commissioner," Lehr said. "It would seem unimaginable. But I think it's a reflection of a city that, in many ways, has changed."

In an even more improbable twist, one of the officers fired for his role in the Cox affair, David Williams, was later reinstated to the police force. As Cox takes the reins, he now has command over one of the officers found liable for violating his civil rights.

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