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Councilors Question Police on Shooting

Several City Councilors sharply questioned and criticized Cambridge police department officials Monday about the shooting of a Western Ave. man by a city police officer.

Francis J. Moore was shot in the leg almost a week and a half ago as he fled a police officer trying to arrest him for breaking and entering.

Quoting from the police department's rules and regulations, an angry city councilor Saundra Graham, who led the criticism of the incident, said police offers are not allowed to fire warning or "wound shots." She also contended that the officer involved knew, the victim and could easily have obtained a warrant for his arrest.

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Police chief Leo Davenport refused to discuss specifics of the case. "There is very little I can say because I will someday soon sit in judgment on this particular case," Davenport said, adding that several independent investigations into the incident are underway.

"It is a paramount concern in our in-service training to instruct police officers never to use firearms except when life is threatened," Davenport said.

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Davenport also denied Graham's charge that the police department had tried to "cover up" the incident. Graham said the police log had no record of a shooting and said only that Moore had been treated for a "puncture wound."

"As far as the police are concerned, there has been no attempt at a cover up," Davenport said. The "journal entry may have been the result of haste, or of a lack of aptitude about how to fill out the report," he added.

Davenport said that the officer involved had been taken off the street "and put behind a desk" in the police station. When Graham said she thought he should have been suspended altogether, Russell Higely, the city's chief legal counsel, said since the officer would have to be paid anyway he "might as well be doing paperwork."

The shooting occurred in the predominantly Black Riverside section of the city--Graham's neighborhood--on Friday, May 1. According to witnesses, Moore, who was treated at Cambridge City Hospital for leg injuries, was shot while running from the policemen. The witnesses added that the incident took place while many other residents, including children on their way home from school, were in the neighborhood.

"There is a double standard of justice, here and across the country," Graham said. "We continually see police officers use their guns to arrest Black people, while they arrest white people with some sensitivity."

"I have the feeling in the gut of my stomach that this kind of action cannot be tolerated in my community...We have to figure out how to handle police officers who think nothing of coming into communities and shooting it up," she said.

Councilor David Sullivan said the shooting incident "bears on our integrity and decency as a city. The government above all has to obey the law," he added.

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