Officers Cleared of Coercion in Murder Case

From Associated Press

Three Boston detectives were cleared Friday of allegations that they tried to coerce a witness into giving false statements against a black man suspected in the 1989 murder of the pregnant wife of white businessman Charles Stuart.

A federal jury rejected Willie Bennett's civil-rights lawsuit against the officers. Bennett was seeking unspecified damages, claiming that police framed him in their eagerness to solve the racially charged slaying.

Bennett accused police of trying to plant drugs in his girlfriend's apartment to pressure her to implicate him.

Carol DiMaiti Stuart was shot to death and her husband wounded in their car on their way home from a childbirth class. Stuart said a black mugger had shot them.

In the days afterward, police combed the mostly black neighborhood where the murder occurred, using heavy-handed tactics that raised racial tensions in Boston. Police quickly focused on Bennett. But before Bennett was arrested or charged, Stuart apparently jumped to his death off a bridge. Police concluded that Stuart himself had killed his wife.

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