When David Ortiz hit a game-winning single in the 14th inning of game five of the 2004 ALCS, it was a signature moment of the team’s miraculous comeback from a three-games-to-none deficit. The series returned to New York, where the Red Sox went on to defeat the Evil Empire, and then to break the Curse of the Bambino and win their first World Series in 86 years.
Andrew Goddard missed it. He was being booked for an incident two innings earlier, when his reaction to a bad call against the home team led to his eviction, and, he alleges in a new lawsuit filed in federal court, a beating from two police officers and false charges of resisting arrest.
It started when David Ortiz drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the 12th, and attempted to steal second base. He was called out, even though Derek Jeter clearly missed the tag.
Goddard, 24 at the time, was sitting with his brother, low on the third-base side, and by his own admission in court documents “express[ed] his frustration” with the umpire. Specifically, he stood up, swore, “and extended his middle finger.”
Goddard’s attorney, Howard Friedman, feels confident that any Boston jury would consider his client’s actions reasonable, if not tame. Certainly no different than what the other 34,000 or so fans in attendance did.
But according to Boston police officers patrolling the stands, Goddard’s obscenities were out of line, and potentially upsetting to children at the game.
Offended by his emotional defense of Ortiz, two officers ejected Goddard. On the way out, Goddard alleges in his lawsuit, one of the officers shoved him repeatedly. After his brother asked for that officer’s badge number, the claim continues, the other officer punched Goddard in the throat; then, when he was lying prone, they both dropped their full weight on him before handcuffing and arresting him. Goddard was charged with trespassing, assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and disturbing a public assembly.
A jury didn’t buy the cops’ version, and acquitted Goddard on all charges in February 2006. Now, Goddard wants the officers and the city to compensate him for injuries, false arrest, and embarrassing him in front of his brother. Not to mention, missing the end of the game.
City officials would not comment on the pending case, which was filed this April. In responses submitted in court this month, the officers deny that the incident took place as Goddard describes.
The city of Boston has paid out more than $15 million in recent years to victims of the police department’s misconduct, with many more cases pending. They include allegations of wrongful conviction, wrongful death, excessive use of force, and other serious charges. Most — such as this one — occurred before the city hired new police commissioner Ed Davis this past year and revamped some of the command and internal-investigation structures. Some of the abuses stem from investigations into murders, rapes, or other serious crimes. Others, including the one alleged by Goddard, seem to start with little or no provocation.
Perhaps the most notorious of these incidents occurred just three days after Goddard’s, after the Red Sox completed their ALCS victory. Police officers opened fire with “less-lethal” pepper-pellet guns, injuring several people and killing 21-year-old Emerson student Victoria Snelgrove. Like Goddard, her only apparent offense was rooting for the home team; the city paid $5 million to Snelgrove’s family to settle their lawsuit.