The police chief in Rehoboth says an adverse reaction to medication - after drinking at an East Providence restaurant last month - caused him to wind up blocks away, lying on the sidewalk screaming. Now the Board of Selectmen is under fire for clearing the chief with no disciplinary action. Jim Hummel did some digging of his own and found key details the selectmen missed during their investigation. He also talks exclusively with a selectman who resigned, in part, over the situation and is now calling for a state police investigation.
The two remaining selectmen in Rehoboth were on the hot seat last week, trying to defend their decision not to discipline Police Chief Stephen Enos, who admitted to drinking at this East Providence restaurant one night last month. He was later found by a city patrolman lying in a driveway more than a hundred yards away ``crying loudly.''
The chief says - and the selectman accepted - his explanation that it was an adverse reaction to taking a narcotic.
Foley: ``We did we thought was a pretty thorough investigation.''
McBride: ``The chief should have been placed on administrative leave, immediately.''
Selectman Kevin McBride told his fellow board members just that at their December 20th meeting, but his advice fell on deaf ears.
McBride, a major general in the National Guard, resigned his position earlier this month, in part because of how his colleagues - Ken Foley and Don Leffort - have handled the chief's situation. He sat down this week with The Hummel Report for his first interview since resigning.
McBride: ``We needed to do an external investigation. And my recommendation was to submit a request to the state attorney general, requesting that the Mass State Police conduct an external investigation. It was the only way for this board to reinstate the police chief's credibility.''
Instead Leffort took it on himself.
Leffort: ``I will say I'm not an investigator, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to go and interview people that were there that night and ask them questions pertaining to the incident.''
Hummel: ``But we found Leffort didn't leave Rehoboth, instead handling the whole investigation by phone. So over the past three weeks we did our own digging - talking to someone the selectman missed: the woman who called 911 that night after the Enos began screaming from this sidewalk in front of her house.''
She told us - and the police - Enos was yelling: ``I want to die.'' Then ``Kill me'' repeatedly.
She saw him try to stuff a lit cigarette in his front pocket, then stagger and hit his head on this fence, falling to the ground.
Finally an officer had to grab Enos by the collar of his jacket when he tried to run away.
Chief Enos told Leffort he was taking the narcotic Vicodin for a medical procedure, but drove his unmarked cruiser to the Riviera Inn anyway, and had his service revolver with him, but locked it in the car, giving the keys to someone else.
Leffort: ``He screwed up, that's it, have you ever screwed up? I know I have.''
We pressed the selectman for more details after last week's meeting.
Leffort: ``(Enos) had taken Vicodin earlier in the day about 2 in the afternoon, a half a dose. Close as I can come, 7 o'clock he had a drink, it was bought for him or he bought it, I don't know, Captain Morgan and Coke. No one could tell me. He doesn't remember finishing it.
It was only one. Nobody else saw him with another drink.''
Leffort says the chief at some point went out for fresh air, but somehow walked more than a hundred yards up North Broadway, winding up in this driveway nearly three hours after he said he had the one drink.
And a full eight hours after taking the half dose of Vicodin.
Leffort said publicly he spoke with the owner of the restaurant, other people who were there that he did not identify, and Officer Richard Cordeiro, who took the report.
But the restaurant owner tells the Hummel Report he spoke with somebody - who did not identify himself - for no more than two minutes by phone - and we found that Chief Enos - a former lieutenant on the East Providence police department - furnished Leffort with the patrolman's cell phone number, in effect participating in his own investigation.
East Providence Chief Joseph Tavares tells the Hummel Report it was inappropriate for the selectman to call the patrolman directly and Cordeiro referred Leffort to the chief's office. Leffort never followed up with the chief. But that's not the impression the selectmen gave earlier this month.
Hummel: ``Then why did you call the police officer. How did you get his number?''
Leffort: ``I don't know, I just had it. I was able to obtain his number.''
Hummel: ``In fact you got his cell phone number from Chief Enos, did you not?''
Leffort: ``Okay yeah, so what if it did?''
Hummel: ``The statement you had given at the last meeting, Mr. Leffort, seemed to indicate that you talked directly to the police and in fact you didn't.''
Leffort: ``I spoke, like I told you, I spoke to Rich Cordeiro.''
Hummel: ``Yeah, but he didn't offer anything else.''
Leffort: ``No he didn't offer any information. I wasn't wrong saying I didn't speak to him, 'cause I did speak to him, but he wouldn't talk back to me.''
Hummel: ``But doesn't that give the impression that if you're doing the investigation, you're not going to have professional law enforcement do it...''
Leffort: ``I'm not a professional investigator -''
Hummel: ``Well then maybe you should go outside the department to do it.''
Leffort: ``I am the liaison to the Police Department, which is why I took it upon myself to do this.''
McBride: ``I never really felt it was a complete and thorough investigation, or so-called investigation. It may have been an inquiry on his part. You know where I come from you've got informal inquiries and then you've got formal investigations. Clearly in my mind, this situation warranted a formal investigation by an external agency.''
Hummel: ``Is it fair to say, though, that the so-called investigation by Mr. Leffort, on behalf of the town, has left more questions than answers?''
McBride: ``Absolutely and I would say the majority of citizens in the town are equally concerned.''
Hummel: ``Do you think it's too late to have somebody come in?''
McBride: ``Absolutely not. I think it needs to be done, absolutely has to be done and it's not too late.''
Hummel: ``What's it going to take to get it done?''
McBride: ``I don't know. I think if enough of the citizens of this town raise enough concern like the level they did the other day, the District Attorney heard from many citizens of the town, the sheriff, maybe that will elevate itself to a certain level.''
In Rehoboth, Jim Hummel, for the Hummel Report.