Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

South Boston Gun and Drug Arrest Based on Ski Mask in Winter

(South) Boston, You're My Home!

I spent several years living just blocks away from where BPD found two people driving in a car around the D-Street projects in Southie with a gun, some marijuana and evidence of drug sales, and $2,200 in cash.

From the BPD Twitter Page:

  • Over the course of two and half hours, the officers’ attention was drawn to a red motor vehicle that appeared to be circling the streets in the vicinity of D Street. After observing the vehicle for a third time and a pedestrian’s suspicious reaction to the vehicle as it passed, officers decided to conduct a stop. When the officers made contact with the two occupants, they observed a rolled-up ski mask in the operator’s pocket and vodka nips in the passenger compartment of the vehicle. When both the operator and passenger continued to nervously glance at a backpack in the backseat of the car, officers feared they may be armed and conducted a frisk of both occupants and the passenger compartment. When the officers patted the backpack, they felt the shape of what they believed to be a firearm inside.

So, according to BPD, what's going on here is that Drug Control Unit officers pull this car over because it passed the same block three times, in a housing project.  Back in the day, when I lived in South Boston, if I left my house to pick up take-out or a six pack, I could easily have driven past the same spot twice in 20 minutes. These police saw this car pass the same spot over the course of two and a half hours!  Seriously.  Okay, so according to the article, based on that they pull the car over and talk to the occupants.  They see a ski mask in the guy's pocket and nip bottles on the floor. 


Please let the record reflect that we are currently in a record cold snap with temperatures below zero. I wore two down jackets this morning just to take the dog out. And nip bottles on the floor? Is the drug control unit really worried about someone having open containers of alcohol in their car?

Well, apparently they are worried enough about it to conclude that these circumstances must mean the people in the car are armed, because the next thing they do is 'pat down' the backpack.  The police have the right to pat down the bag if they have reason to believe that, during the course of a lawful stop (which this was not) that the people they are interacting with are (a) armed, and (b) dangerous. In this case they had neither, and certainly not both.  There is nothing at all about a ski mask and some nip bottles in the middle of winter that would make a reasonable person think they would find a weapon. 

It's entirely possible the police are covering up a confidential informant that told them they would find a gun in the bag, so they strain to come up with legal justification for the stop and search. It is also possible they pulled the same routine with a dozen other unfortunate residents of the D-Street projects until they finally got something, and only wrote up an article on the one that payed off. We will never know.