In the aftermath of a confrontation recorded on video outside of Florian Hall last Tuesday between state Rep. Dan Cullinane’s father and Jovan Lacet, who is challenging Cullinane for his seat in the House, both parties filed police reports on the incident.
Robert Cullinane, 70, was at the Florian Hall polling location that day to vote in the special election for a state Senate seat. His son, who was not at the scene at the time of the confrontation, later said in a statement that “in an apparent attempt to intimidate him, Mr. Lacet grabbed my father and refused to let go, leaving a deep bruise on his hand. As a result, the situation then, unfortunately, escalated into a heated verbal exchange.”
Lacet’s campaign manager called Boston Police and told officers that Lacet felt “insulted and threatened” by Cullinane, according to a police report. At the end of the interaction, the video seems to show the elder Cullinane knocking the phone recording video out of the hand of Lacet’s campaign manager, Jeff Durham.
A spokesperson for Lacet did not respond to a Reporter request for comment, but Lacet told Fox 25 that Cullinane “grabbed my hand and started squeezing it hard and said ‘the same thing that happened to Besher is going to happen to you,’” an apparent reference to a criminal trial involving Jovan Lacet’s brother Besher, who had been accused in a fatal shooting that happened in 1998. Jovan was terminated from his job as a Boston Police officer on charges of perjury and impeding the police investigation into the murder.
Besher Lacet was found not guilty, a verdict the detective investigating the case maintained was a result due in large part to his brother’s testimony, and deported to Haiti. He has since died.
The parties differ significantly in their descriptions of the confrontation.
“I came in here to vote and you came over here and grabbed my arm,” Robert Cullinane says to Lacet on the video. A photo of Cullinane’s hand later showed dark bruising on the back of his hand and middle two knuckles. He went to the C-11 police station after the incident to file a report, and said he planned to see a doctor to evaluate the injuries.
After the verbal exchange between Lacet and Cullinane Durham told Cullinane: “I have it recorded,” while holding his phone within an arm’s length of Cullinane’s face. “You know what you can do with that,” Cullinane says, pointing across the parking lot, “you can go over there and campaign with it.” When Durham responds that he “will campaign throughout the district,” the video shows Cullinane reaching out and appearing to smack the phone out of Durham’s hand.
Durham’s police report alleges vandalism for minor damage to his phone.
Lacet later told Fox 25 that he did not know who Robert Cullinane was — he identified himself as “Dan’s father” in the video, to which Lacet responded, “that doesn’t mean [expletive] to me.” Lacet later said the incident should not have occurred and apologized for his response.
In his statement, Rep. Cullinane said that he regrets that the incident occurred and that his father “responded emotionally when physically confronted. … Unfortunately, this is not the first time Mr. Lacet has attempted to intimidate members of the district who have supported my campaign.”
The upcoming election is the second matchup between Cullinane and Lacet, the only two candidates on the ballot for the 12th Suffolk seat in the Sept. 4 Democratic primary. Lacet sought to unseat Cullinane in 2016. Cullinane, who earned 54 percent of the vote, defeated Lacet and another candidate in a low turnout primary that year.