A suspended Massachusetts State Trooper is facing assault charges for allegedly firing a gun at an ATV operator on Route 93 in Boston.
Trooper Matthew Sheehan pleaded not guilty in Suffolk Superior Court Thursday where's he's facing assault charges.
The charges stem from an incident in February 2018 on Route 93 in South Boston, in which a large group of motorbikes, ATVs, dirt bikes and mopeds drove illegally drove onto the highway.
Trooper Sheehan was one of 10 Mass. State Troopers responding to the scene.
According to a prosecutor, after one operator broke away from the troopers' grasp, the trooper took out his Smith and Wesson M&P patrol rifle as a show of force and fired twice at an ATV, hitting the person who was driving it in the foot.
During the investigation, the prosecutor said Trooper Sheehan changed his story about what happened.
"His original version of events was that the ATV was driving directly towards him," Assistant District Attorney John Verner said. "He later switched it to he was driving diagonally towards him."
As prosecutors present their case, they are going beyond the physical evidence of what happened that day.
They also intend to use Sheehan’s comments on social media, on a site called Mass. Cops, where
Sheehan posted as 'Big Irish' to show the trooper’s state of mind and motive at the time of the incident.
The Suffolk County DA saying in court records, "many of the posts are racially tinged, disparaging of women, promote or condone violence or excessive force, suggest 'getting creative' when finding ways to stop citizens and a lack of respect for people and human life."
Trooper Sheehan is suspended while the case works its way through the courts.
He is released on personal recognizance and his due back in court in December.
Police sent WFXT the following statement:
"Trooper Sheehan has been suspended without pay since early 2018, when the Department opened an Internal Affairs case for inappropriate social media postings. The Department recognizes the seriousness of the offenses as alleged and will take appropriate action following, and based upon, the outcome of the upcoming judicial proceedings. Colonel Gilpin and her Command Staff expect and demand that MSP members conduct themselves at all times in accordance the law, an expectation that is embraced by the vast majority of men and women who serve as state troopers."