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Answers needed on police protocol at crime scenes

Ed Davis, the commissioner of the Boston Police Department, said last Friday that his command staff will investigate how the body of a 19-year-old murder victim was left undiscovered in a Mascot Street driveway for more than two days following a shooting incident last Sunday that left another teenager dead. While the full facts surrounding the incident are far from clear at this stage, there is troubling anecdotal evidence suggesting that the protocols at a murder scene need to be re-examined, explained and — perhaps— tightened.

The Boston Police should move quickly to make their findings public and give a full accounting of their actions in this case and any changes that may need to come of it.

On the night in question – the early morning of Nov. 7 – B-3 police responded to 64 Mascot St. where they found 17-year-old Emmanuel Louissaint suffering from a gunshot wound. He was taken to a Boston hospital, where he died hours later. His death triggered a new round of investigation at the scene which, reason suggests, ought to have led to the discovery of the second victim, who was found dead on Tuesday in the driveway of 63 Mascot, directly across the street from the original crime scene.

Police officials acknowledge that the time lapse in the discovery of the second victim is highly unusual. They say it was a “perfect storm” of conditions — the weather, the lack of information from witnesses on the ground, the time of the incident, etc. While these arguments may have some merit, there remain important unresolved questions that need more in-depth investigation: Was the second victim, Nervin Charlot, deceased at the time of the initial response on Sunday?

A full report from the medical examiner’s office should give more insight on the time of death. When the Mascot Street scene became the site of a murder investigation after Louissaint’s death, was there a search of the nearby yards for evidence? What is the current protocol for investigating an outdoor crime scene?

Some police officers have said privately that they feel unfairly targeted by the scrutiny of this case. In fact, it is understandable that cops on B-3 should feel overtaxed. The volume of non-fatal shootings and homicides on that district is way up this year and at this stage there has been little help in the form of reinforcements for the men and women charged with patrolling our streets. They are truly stretched thin.

But this case has implications beyond Dorchester and Mattapan. The public needs to have confidence that crime scenes are properly searched, secured, and canvassed to facilitate not only good arrests, but also successful prosecutions. This case has shaken that confidence and the BPD must move swiftly to re-assure our communities that all measures that need to be taken are taken in the days to come.

In the meantime, the double murder on Mascot Street remains “very active, but as yet unsolved. Anyone with information that could assist in the investigation is urged to contact Boston Police to help them find whoever killed Emmanuel Louissaint and Nervin Charlot. Tips can be called in to detectives at 617-343-4470 or anonymously to the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS. Or text ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).