Harvard Police Officer Accused Of Racist And Excessive Force Incidents Against Homeless Black Men

A Harvard University police offi­cer is fac­ing major crit­i­cism for his use of force in three recent inci­dents involv­ing young home­less Black men on its main cam­pus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

According to The Harvard Crimson, the school’s stu­dent-run news­pa­per, Officer Anthony T. Carvello, 61, first received crit­i­cism in September of last year when he put his hand on a man’s neck at the Smith Center and the man said he couldn’t breathe. According to an inci­dent report, Carvello, who is white, approached Terry T. Jackson, 20, to whom he had pre­vi­ous­ly giv­en a tres­pass warn­ing. In his report, Carvello said that he told Jackson that he was vio­lat­ing his tres­pass warn­ing and that Jackson used exple­tives to describe him while Carvello wait­ed for back­up to arrive.

Carvello claimed he pushed Jackson’s head down after he alleged­ly refused Carvello’s order to put his hands behind his back for an arrest. According to video that cap­tured the inci­dent, Carvello put his hand on Jackson’s neck before plac­ing him in hand­cuffs. Three back­up offi­cers also even­tu­al­ly arrived on the scene.

Jackson told The Crimson that he was unable to breathe when Carvello grabbed his neck and explained that he had an anx­i­ety attack dur­ing the inci­dent. Jackson’s girl­friend Aryana S. Watkins, 22, told The Crimson that she wit­nessed Jackson cry­ing as he was placed in the back of a Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) car. Two oth­er peo­ple who wit­nessed the arrest also said they believe Carvello used exces­sive force while appre­hend­ing Jackson, and one of the wit­ness­es said she called the department’s sta­tion lat­er that day to express her con­cerns. Her efforts didn’t seem to work, how­ev­er, because four months after the arrest, Carvello was select­ed by the depart­ment to be one of its two patrol offi­cers of the Smith Center.

The cen­tral and open nature of the SCC’s pub­lic spaces lends itself to increased activ­i­ty, includ­ing behav­iors that do not abide by the rules of the space,” wrote HUPD spokesper­son Steven G. Catalano. “Our offi­cers assigned to the SCC are required to respond to more issues than they might oth­er­wise in anoth­er part of cam­pus.”

Three HUPD offi­cers famil­iar with the inci­dent felt it was inap­pro­pri­ate for Carvello to put his hands on Jackson’s neck and they argue that the depart­ment should have removed him from the Smith Center pend­ing inves­ti­ga­tion.

The sec­ond inci­dent involv­ing Carvello occurred in January. He was dis­patched to the Smith Center to respond to a report of an “unwant­ed guest” on the sec­ond floor, accord­ing to a pub­licly avail­able inci­dent report Carvello penned. As Carvello ascend­ed the steps to the sec­ond floor, he came upon Isaiah L. Scott, 22, to whom he had giv­en a tres­pass warn­ing the pre­vi­ous day.

Scott walked away and Carvello pur­sued him with his pep­per spray drawn, accord­ing to his inci­dent report, because Scott had alleged­ly been “non-com­pli­ant” the day before. According to the report, Carvello approached Scott near the ele­va­tors and told him he was under arrest for tres­pass­ing and he told him to place his hands behind his back.

Carvello wrote that Scott was non-com­pli­ant and he repeat­ed­ly asked to speak to Carvello’s super­vi­sor. This is when Carvello said that he threat­ened to pep­per spray Scott. Carvello said Scott still wouldn’t com­ply and even­tu­al­ly he sprayed in Scott’s direc­tion. Scott dodged the spray and attempt­ed to flee Carvello.

I fol­lowed him and repeat­ed com­mands to stop and put his hands behind his back,” Carvello wrote. “I sprayed two more times hit­ting him once on the side of his face and once direct­ly in his eyes. I secure[d] him against the wall and wait­ed for back­up to arrive.”

Eventually, six HUPD offi­cers came to assist with hand­cuff­ing Carvello, who was even­tu­al­ly moved to the ground to fin­ish the arrest.

HUPD Sergeant James P. Pignone, 53, arrived at the scene and wrote in a report, “Scott said that he was being harassed by Officer Carvello, that he (Scott) had done noth­ing wrong, that he wasn’t tres­pass­ing and that Officer Carvello had just walked up to him, called him a ni**er and sprayed him with pep­per spray.”

By Department pol­i­cy, offi­cers are allowed to use Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) spray,” Catalano wrote of the inci­dent. “HUPD offi­cers are instruct­ed to use only the amount of force that is rea­son­ably nec­es­sary to deesca­late the inci­dent and bring it under con­trol. If de-esca­la­tion does not work, offi­cers may apply an esca­lat­ing lev­el of force to meet the lev­el of resis­tance.”

Despite Catalano’s state­ment and a report by Pignone say­ing Carvello’s arrest was appro­pri­ate, three offi­cers in the depart­ment famil­iar with the case said they believe Carvello used exces­sive force while arrest­ing Scott. An inves­ti­ga­tion into this arrest is ongo­ing.

Finally, the third inci­dent involv­ing Carvello occurred on Feb. 20, on the first floor of the Smith Center. At 11 a.m., he approached Tyrique D. Simmons, 21, who had an active tres­pass warn­ing for all Harvard University prop­er­ty, accord­ing to two inter­nal HUPD inci­dent reports writ­ten by Carvello.

arvel­lo wrote that he approached Simmons and as Simmons attempt­ed to leave, Carvello “put [his] hands on [Simmons’s] chest and shoul­der area and guid­ed him toward the wall,” accord­ing to the first report.

The two of them had a bit of a scuf­fle near a col­umn across the ele­va­tors, accord­ing to the police report. Simmons then tried to run away and Carvello grabbed Simmons and backed him into the col­umn where Carvello stat­ed that he was under arrest. Carvello wrote that once he said this, Simmons’ resis­tance inten­si­fied and he punched Simmons to pre­vent an assault. Simmons cor­rob­o­rat­ed the punch in an inter­view with the Crimson.

According to Carvello’s reports and video footage, Simmons told Carvello “I didn’t do any­thing” dur­ing the inci­dent. On the day of the arrest, three wit­ness­es said Carvello used exces­sive force when appre­hend­ing Simmons and one of the wit­ness­es said she filed a com­plaint with HUPD that day.

Simmons told the Crimson that he feared for his life dur­ing the inci­dent and since then, he’s suf­fered height­ened stress. His moth­er, Tanya L. Simmons, 42, even said her son has avoid­ed phys­i­cal con­tact since the arrest occurred.

According to The Crimson, Carvello sub­mit­ted two dif­fer­ent reports detail­ing the inci­dent to an inter­nal HUPD data­base. In the sec­ond report, Carvello is more detailed in describ­ing Simmons’ behav­ior and the inci­dent, adding details such as how he drew his pep­per spray after he forced Simmons to the floor. A par­tial video of the arrest cor­rob­o­rat­ed these claims where Carvello repeat­ed­ly threat­ened to use the spray. Two HUPD offi­cers even­tu­al­ly arrived on the scene to assist with hand­cuff­ing Simmons, accord­ing to both ver­sions of the report.

nce again, with this third inci­dent, three offi­cers famil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion believe Carvello used exces­sive force with Simmons. Former Boston Police Department lieu­tenant and cur­rent Emmanuel College soci­ol­o­gy pro­fes­sor Thomas Nolan even called the alle­ga­tions against Carvello unusu­al.

You’ve got three instances of exces­sive force alle­ga­tions in six months,” he said. “That’s a lot. That’s more than most police offi­cers will accrue over the course of a 25 or 30-year career.”

In a recent meet­ing, Harvard’s stu­dent gov­ern­ment con­demned Carvello’s actions, demand­ing that the HUPD drop the tres­pass­ing charges against the man in the February inci­dent. They also demand­ed HUPD “release its code of ethics and bud­get, and that police issue an apol­o­gy and dis­ci­pline the offi­cer involved.”
this sto­ry orig­i­nat­ed in [Newsone]