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Victoria "Torie" Snelgrove
(Family Photo)
Riot Police near Fenway prior to the shooting.

Victoria Snelgrove (October 29, 1982 – October 21, 2004) was a college student who was accidentally killed by Boston police about an hour and a half after the Boston Red Sox's victory over the New York Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series. Snelgrove was a junior majoring in journalism at Emerson College, to which she had transferred from Fitchburg State College in the fall of 2003. She was 21 years old when she died. She was mortally wounded near Fenway Park when an FN 303 blunt trauma / pepper spray projectile hit her in her eye, causing her to bleed excessively. Ambulances were blocked by the excessive crowds which still refused to clear the area, preventing prompt medical attention from arriving from the dense medical area only a half-mile away.[1]

Snelgrove died at 12:50 p.m. EDT at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, about 12 hours after being shot. According to the autopsy, the pellet opened a three-quarter-inch hole in the bone behind the eye, broke into nine pieces, and damaged the right side of her brain. A video of the scene shows the crowd dispersing once they realized the severity of her injury as she lay face-down on the ground bleeding.

Boston Police Department Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole placed the police officer involved in the incident, Rochefort Milien, on leave. O'Toole later attended the hour-long funeral on October 27, 2004, at St. John's Catholic church in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts along with Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Gov. Mitt Romney.

The investigation and aftermath

The investigation into Snelgrove's death was led by former U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern best known for prosecuting mob figures, including fugitive Winter Hill Gang leader James "Whitey" Bulger. O'Toole accepted the department's responsibility, yet still blamed the "punks" who turned the event into a near-riot as the real cause. After the police investigation, Officer Rochefort Milien was identified as the person who actually fired the shot that killed Snelgrove. On May 2, 2005, the city of Boston announced a $5.1 million settlement for her family's lawsuit.

On September 12, 2005, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley announced that he would not prosecute any of the officers involved. [2]

On September 16, 2005, O'Toole demoted the police superintendent who was in charge the night of the shooting to captain and suspended two officers. She also issued written reprimands to two other officers. Milien agreed to accept a 45-day suspension without pay. The deputy superintendent outside Fenway Park at the time of the incident was also criticized for poor decisions that led to Snelgrove's death, but had already retired and escaped disciplinary action.

The weapon that killed Snelgrove was manufactured by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal. Because of this incident, several police forces, such as the Seattle Police Department, discontinued use of this weapon.

After her death, Boston Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon said he would have traded back Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS to have her back.

Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan dedicated their book, Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle The Historic 2004 Season to Snelgrove. The dedication reads simply : "For Victoria Snelgrove / Red Sox fan".


The Complaint alleges assault and battery, assault by means of a dangerousweapon, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent supervision, and violation of civil rights.2The court dismissed the BPD from the Complaint on February 28, 2008. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS CIVIL ACTION NO. 06-12033-RGSMICHAEL LONARDOv.CITY OF BOSTON, BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT, MAYOR THOMAS M. MENINO, KATHLEEN O’TOOLE, ALBERT GOSLIN, ROCHEFORT MILIEN,and ROBERT O’TOOLEMEMORANDUM AND ORDER ONDEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS FOR SANCTIONSMay 20, 2008STEARNS, D.J. The Boston Red Sox “Hail Mary” defeat of the New York Yankees for the 2004American League Championship ignited a celebration that regrettably took on overtonesof a riot. Plaintiff Michael Lonardo filed this action in the Suffolk County Superior Court onOctober 10, 2006, alleging that he was injured as a result of being struck by a pellet gunfired by a City of Boston police officer confronting a boisterous crowd gathered nearFenway Park.1The Complaint named as defendants the City of Boston, Mayor ThomasMenino, the Boston Police Department (BPD),2former Police Commissioner KathleenO’Toole, former acting Commissioner Albert Goslin, former Superintendent Robert3It appears that officer Milien and former Superintendent O’Toole were neverserved.4The conference was later re-scheduled to April 30, 2007, at the request of theparties.5Lonardo alleges that he suffered great mental anguish and “fell into a deep stateof depression” as a result of the incident. At his deposition, he stated that he was under treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital for generalized anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. He claims to have been given prescriptions for a variety of pain and depression medications, including Lexapro, Clonodine, and Vicodin.6Defendants subsequently filed three additional motions to compel, one of whichwas assented to, the other two were allowed as unopposed. The first motion concerned Lonardo’s criminal history and probate records. The assented-to motion sought to compel the attendance of a Renee Viola at a deposition. Defendants believed that Viola had information that Lonardo’s alleged injuries were self-inflicted, and were not the result of any act by the police. The third motion sought to compel the attendance of a Kris Sullivan at a deposition. Lonardo claims that he was with Sullivan at the time he was injured. 2O’Toole, and officer Rochefort Milien.3The case was removed to this court on November6, 2006, on federal question grounds.The relevant facts are largely procedural in nature. On February 7, 2007, the courtnoticed a scheduling conference pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b) and Local Rule 16.1.4Among other things, the notice advised the parties that attendance was expected and thatan unexplained absence could result in sanctions. Lonardo’s attorney, Joseph Machera,failed to appear at the conference. Nor was he available by telephone. After excuseswere made, the court declined to impose sanctions and allowed the case to proceed todiscovery.Lonardo’s deposition commenced on August 15, 2007, but was suspended pendingthe production of relevant medical records.5These records were later the subject of amotion to compel that Lonardo did not oppose.6On November 16, 2007, the court ordered3Lonardo to produce the records “within ten days.” It appears that Lonardo did not complyuntil some time in January of 2008. Thereafter, the parties agreed to resume Lonardo’sdeposition at 10:00 a.m. on February 19, 2008. Counsel for both parties appeared.Lonardo did not. After waiting seventy-five minutes, the lawyers agreed to suspend thedeposition a second time. To this date, Lonardo has offered no explanation for hisabsence.On February 22, 2008, defendants filed a motion for sanctions. The motion wasunopposed. On March 10, 2008, the court ordered Lonardo to appear and complete hisdeposition within thirty days. The court awarded defendants their requested costs of$170.00 as reimbursement for the expense of hiring a stenographer for the aborteddeposition.In accordance with the court’s order, the parties re-scheduled Lonardo’s depositionto April 3, 2008, at 10:00 a.m. Counsel for both parties again appeared. After waiting fortyminutes it became apparent that Lonardo would not present himself. The parties went onthe record as follows:Attorney Machera has informed me that he does not expect his client to show; that he’s had difficulty getting in touch with him, although he’s notified him by mail of the deposition date, which was intended for today. . . . And as I said to Attorney Machera, I will be proceeding in court by filing a motion for sanctions seeking dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.Attorney Machera continued:It should be noted that the last time this was called for deposition, Mr. Lonardo did not show up. I sternly warned him that he must attend these depositions. I have attempted to call any and all telephone numbers I had for him and his father, all of which were disconnected or not accepting calls. I sent him a letter to his last known address – which I truly believe he’s still7Rule 37(d) specifically allows dismissal as a sanction for a party’s failure to attendits own deposition. See Guex v. Allmerica Fin. Life Ins. & Annuity Co., 146 F.3d 40, 42-43 (1st Cir.1998). 4living there – informing him of Judge Ste[a]rns’s decision and his necessity to be here today. And I have not heard anything from him.On April 4, 2008, defendants filed a second motion for sanctions. Defendants nowseek dismissal of the action pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b). DISCUSSION Rule 37(b) provides that a district court may dismiss an action for plaintiff’snoncompliance with a discovery order.7See also Benitez-Garcia v. Gonzalez-Vega, 468F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 2006). The decision to sanction and the choice of the sanction to beimposed lies within the court’s discretion. See id. Dismissal ordinarily should be reservedfor instances of extreme misconduct. See Tower Ventures, Inc. v. City of Westfield, 296F.3d 43, 46 (1st Cir. 2002). Among the factors to be considered are the “severity of theviolation, the legitimacy of the party’s excuse, repetition of violations, the deliberatenessvel non of the misconduct, mitigating excuses, prejudice to the other side and to theoperations of the court, and the adequacy of lesser sanctions.” Benitez-Garcia, 468 F.3dat 4. Disregard of judicial orders, in and of itself, can justify dismissal. See Young v.Gordon, 330 F.3d 76, 91 (1st Cir. 2003) (dismissal was appropriate where plaintiff failedto abide by court order to appear for a deposition within seven days); Torres-Vargas v.Pereira, 431 F.3d 389, 392 (1st Cir. 2005) (dismissal was appropriate where plaintiff failedto comply with court’s discovery order).5Lonardo has blatantly ignored the court’s repeated orders requiring him to appearat his deposition. The record shows that he was given notice of the orders and thedeposition dates, and was advised by his lawyer in no uncertain terms of theconsequences of noncompliance. Lonardo has disregarded his lawyer’s warnings anddefied the court’s order. He has made no effort to explain his failures to comply. Hisrefusal to be deposed virtually paralyzes defendants’ ability to defend the case.Accordingly, the case will be dismissed. The court finds that no lesser sanction would beappropriate under the circumstances. There is no reason that defendants should becompelled to defend a case that plaintiff, for whatever reason, does not deign to prosecute.ORDER For the foregoing reasons, defendants’ motion for sanctions is ALLOWED. Thecase is DISMISSED with prejudice. The Clerk will close the file. SO ORDERED. /s/ Richard G. Stearns________________________________ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Notes

  1. ^  http://www.mass.gov/da/suffolk/docs/091205.html Retrieved October 26, 2005
  2. ^  Commission Investigating the Death of Victoria Snelgrove, page 14. Retrieved April 25, 2009

References








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