State trooper who sent derogatory texts about Karen Read is suspended without pay

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The state trooper who led the investigation into Karen Read, the Massachusetts woman whose murder trial in the death of her police officer boyfriend ended with a hung jury last week, was suspended without pay Monday, an agency spokesman said.

The suspension of trooper Michael Proctor was effective immediately and came nearly one month after the investigator testified that he made derogatory comments about Read in text messages to friends, relatives and supervisors.

A three-member panel recommended the suspension after a duty status hearing, the spokesman said, adding that the recommendation was accepted by Interim Police Superintendent Col. John Mawn.

The spokesman declined further comment.

Defense lawyers for Read, who was charged with second-degree murder, motor vehicle manslaughter while driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a collision causing death, had accused Proctor of manipulating evidence and conducting a biased investigation into the death of Boston police officer John O’Keefe on Jan. 29, 2022.

During Read’s trial, which spanned nine weeks and included dozens of witnesses, Proctor denied those allegations and described his comments as unprofessional and regrettable but said they didn’t compromise the investigation.

Hours after a judge declared a mistrial, Proctor was relieved of duty from his post at a state police unit within the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office.

Massachusetts State Police Interim Col. John Mawn said the agency had opened an internal affairs investigation into allegations of “serious misconduct” raised at trial. 

That investigation is ongoing, the agency spokesman said Monday.

The state police union did not respond to a request for comment.

O’Keefe was found unresponsive in the front yard of another Boston police officer on the morning of Jan. 29. He was pronounced dead shortly after. A medical examiner attributed his cause of death to blunt force trauma and hypothermia. 

The prosecution described a deteriorating relationship between Read and O’Keefe and accused Read of backing her Lexus SUV into her boyfriend outside the home of the other Boston police officer, Brian Albert. 

Her defense lawyers argued that O’Keefe was likely assaulted and killed during a party at Albert’s home the night before O’Keefe was found in his front yard. The lawyers accused Albert and other law enforcement officers of covering up the killing and blaming Read for O’Keefe’s death.

The assistant district attorney who tried the case called this theory “rampant speculation.” Albert has said O’Keefe never entered his home that night.

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