Rowinsky v. Massachusetts State Police
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Civil Action No.
State Trooper John M. Walsh;
Joseph S. Lalli, Commissioner of Public Safety;
Jane Perlo, Secretary of Public Safety;
Colonel John DiFava, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police and the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts;
AFFIDAVIT OF PAMALA FERNANDES
I, Pamala Fernandes, do depose and state as follows:
- My name is Pamala Fernandes, and I am a professional speaker and full-time professional bicycle racer.
- In 1996 I was commuting regularly by bicycle together with my husband, Paul Miller, then a Northeastern University graduate student. We used a tandem bicycle as our principal means of transportation.
- Although I did not ride that many miles, in part because I am blind, Paul rode over 12,000 miles a year.
- In 1996, I competed for the United States as a disabled cyclist. In the summer of 1996, I won a bronze medal cycling for the United States in the Paralympics in Atlanta. Last year, I won a gold and silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics
- After the 1996, paralympics, on September 6, 1996, my fiancé and I were riding a tandem bicycle lawfully on Memorial Drive in Cambridge, coming home from work at about 5:00 p.m.
- As we rode, a state trooper in a state police cruiser attacked us. First he pulled up behind us, perilously close to our rear wheel. Then he passed us and cut in front of us and slammed on his brakes, so close to us that Paul had to lock our wheels to avoid a crash.
- The trooper, whom we later learned was Trooper Favale, then began screaming at us, berating us and demanding to know why we weren’t off the road and on the multi-use path he called a bike path.
- Paul told the trooper that we have a right to ride in the roadway and he screamed at us “then ride on the sidewalk”. Paul asked him if we had broken any law and if he was planning on citing us with a violation. His response was a stream of rude remarks, the least colorful of which was “Go ahead and kill yourself . . . you people are the first to complain when there is an accident.”
- As I am blind, I could not see the uniform or markings on the cruiser. I could not believe that this was a state law enforcement officer, as all I could perceive were his rude words, loud and offensive manner and the smell of rubber from the skidmarks he left when he screached to a stop, cutting us off. The most appalling thing to me was the off-color language.
- Paul subsequently wrote to the then governor, William Weld, complaining about the conduct of the state trooper and requesting that appropriate disciplinary action be taken.
- He received a response from defendant DiFava, stating “I feel strongly that Trooper Favale acted out of concern for the safety of yourself and your fiancé. Memorial Drive is not the place for the safe operation of bicycles.”
- Defendant DiFava's letter, after incorrectly citing Massachusetts law and MDC regulations in order to justify his bias against allowing bicycles on Memorial Drive, advised us that based on "other factors that were brought to light in the investigation" (but which were otherwise were not disclosed), Trooper Favale's conduct and actions were exonerated.
- Paul I followed up by writing Kate Sullivan of the MDC, as it appeared that the state police were misapplying an MDC regulation that applied to snowmobiles and bicycles being limited to paved paths and designated areas in order to exclude bicyclists from Memorial Drive.
- In response, Ms. Sullivan arranged a meeting with relevant officers of the state police. According to her report of this meeting, dated March 6, 1997, she advised the state police that “It is the intention of the [MDC] to not prohibit (pardon the double negative) bicycles on our parkways, with a few exceptions” [such as the Mass. Ave. underpass on Memorial Drive].
- According to a separate written communication from Ms. Sullivan, also dated March 6, 1997, “the state police are clear on our intention with regard to bikes on parkways” but “they are uncomfortable with the idea of people riding on some of our parkways”, even though the law permits them to do so.
Signed and sworn under pain and penalty of perjury this day of ---, 2001