Is Kevin Hayden fit to be a district attorney?

Kevin Hayden, the new Suffolk County district attorney who is seeking a full term this fall, is giving voters plenty of reason to wonder if he’s fit for the job after a recent Globe report cast doubt on his will to hold law enforcement to account. for fault. His sloppy response to the story has only made things worse since then.

Here’s what happened: MBTA police officer Jacob Green allegedly pointed his gun at a driver during a traffic conflict while off duty. Green proceeded to cover his tracks in real time by allegedly writing false police reports and having one of his colleagues provide false testimony. Former District Attorney Rachael Rollins has launched an investigation to shed light on the case. But after Rollins left to become a US attorney and Governor Charlie Baker appointed Hayden to fill his role, the investigation inexplicably stalled and seemed almost doomed. In fact, Hayden’s deputy principal, Kevin Mullen, told Green’s attorney that he had “no desire to pursue this matter.” Meanwhile, Hayden insisted the case was never closed. “This case has remained open and active at all times since I came into office during the Rollins administration,” he said in an interview.

But it wasn’t until reporters at The Globe initially contacted Hayden that his office assigned a new prosecutor to the case, and it wasn’t until after the story was published that Hayden fired the case before a grand jury — all while the prosecutor’s office made a series of statements. which sometimes seemed contradictory. On Wednesday, Hayden told the Globe editorial board that his office was conducting an internal review of his deputy’s actions. He also promised he would direct Mullen, who had previously declined to speak with the Globe, to answer questions from reporters.

These are all welcome steps, but the fact remains that none of them happened before the Globe report and the political fallout that followed. Hayden insists the timing is pure coincidence.

“I understand that today’s announcement will be seen as a reaction to media reports,” Hayden said in his statement announcing the grand jury. “I can’t control perceptions. But I can assure everyone that this action would happen within the same time frame, regardless of whether or not this investigation attracted attention.

But publicly known details suggest Hayden’s claim is not true. Consider what we know so far: A grand jury was originally scheduled for April, and while it looked like a prosecution was slated, the DA’s office appeared to want to end the case without an explanation, officials say. of the transport police. That same month, Mullen told Green’s attorney that the case was essentially over — a statement the attorney made in a sworn affidavit. While Hayden’s office initially denied this, they later backtracked and said Green’s attorney simply misunderstood what Mullen said.

None of this feels like a very linear timeline. Indeed, when it comes to holding law enforcement to account, the actions of Hayden’s office feel uncomfortably like a throwback to prosecutors who see no evil in the past. He said he takes police accountability seriously and would continue to do so if elected to a full term as DA. “Since I arrived here there have been other cases of misconduct and criminality involving police officers which we have charged and will continue to do so,” he said. But his appointment of Mullen — making a former police defense attorney accused of misconduct his senior deputy — is a disturbing sign of the district attorney’s sympathy. (Incidentally, when I followed through on Hayden’s promise and asked to speak to his deputy, the DA’s office said Mullen was on vacation.)

Hayden faces a serious challenge from Councilman Ricardo Arroyo, brother and son of Boston politicians who has positioned himself as the race’s reformer — someone who will make police accountability a foundation of his career as a prosecutor. Unless Hayden can quickly restore confidence in his handling of the T case, he’ll let Arroyo claim that role without too much of a fight. And there’s not much time left before people vote. So what is Hayden waiting for?

Abdallah Fayyad is a columnist for the Globe. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @abdallah_fayyad.

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