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Largey's Death Brought Fame to Housing Project

By Richard A. Samp

Lawrence P. Largey's death in a Cambridge jail cell last October, the issue that first brought local prominence to Roosevelt Towers, has not yet been resolved.

Largey, age 17, lived several blocks from Roosevelt Towers and usually hung out with friends at the housing project. One night last October, police arrested him for drunk and disorderly conduct (he threw a brick through a store front window) and for assaulting a police officer. According to several eyewitnesses, Largey was beaten by the arresting officer, Peter DeLuca, inside the police paddywagon. DeLuca claimed he hit Largey several times but only in self defense.

A dazed Largey was then taken to Cambridge Police Headquarters and put into a jail cell. At 3 a.m., five hours after his arrest, Largey was discovered dead in his cell.

Largey's death ushered in a wave of violence in the Roosevelt Towers area. For four successive nights teenage kids rampaged, breaking windows and setting fires, demanding that DeLuca be indicted for murder. DeLuca went on a voluntary leave of absence without pay from the police department.

A Cambridge medical examiner's autopsy of Largey's body showed that Largey died from a combination of an overdose of alcohol and an overdose of drugs.

However, an independent examiner, who performed a separate autopsy at the request of Largey's mother, reported that Largey might have died either from an alcohol and drug overdose or from a severe blow to the head. He also said that Largey had been beaten severely before his death.

Under public pressure to act decisively, City Manager John Corcoran named BU Law Professor Paul J. Liacos to investigate Largey's death and police procedures for handling such incidents. Corcoran also promised to personally conduct a disciplinary hearing for police officers involved.

Liacos released his findings in November, criticizing police department procedures for handling arrests and finding that DeLuca and three other officers, Rudolph Carbone, Robert Mills and Anthony J. Temmallo, acted improperly with regard to Largey's arrest. He recommended the City take disciplinary action against the four policemen.

A grand jury that investigated the death in February decided not to hand down any indictments against any police officers. Since DeLuca's leave of absence was voluntary, he returned to active duty in March.

City Manager Corcoran then set a date for a disciplinary hearing for DeLuca. Just before the hearing was to be held in April, DeLuca obtained a preliminary injunction against the hearing on the grounds that Corcoran could not possibly be an impartial judge, since Corcoran had commissioned the report which recommended DeLuca be disciplined.

Due to the overcrowded Superior Court docket, a decision on whether to permanently enjoin Corcoran from holding a disciplinary hearing has not yet been held.

Corcoran recently called the City's failure to wind up the Largey case the "biggest disappointment" of his last year in office. Cambridge's Assistant City Solicitor, Russell Higley, said recently that the City is "still working hard" on DeLuca's case and that the case should come up to trial in October.

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