Boston Mayor Delivers 'Long Overdue' Apology

Mayor, police commissioner apologize to Black men wrongly accused of 1989 Stuart murder
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2023 7:05 PM CST
Updated Dec 23, 2023 2:10 PM CST
Boston Mayor Apologizes to Black Men Wrongly Accused of 1989 Murder
Alan Swanson, center, stands with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, right, as Wu offers a formal apology to Swanson and Willie Bennett, not shown, during a news conference, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu delivered what she said was a "long overdue" apology Wednesday to two Black men who were wrongly accused of murdering a pregnant white woman in 1989. Boston police targeted the city's Black community and wrongly linked Alan Swanson and Willie Bennett to the killing after Charles Stuart told police a Black man in a track suit shot his wife, Carol Stuart, during a carjacking on Oct. 25, 1989. She died the next morning and her baby, delivered by cesarean section, died 17 days later. Charles Stuart killed himself on Jan. 4, 1990, hours after his brother went to police to tell them the truth: Stuart murdered his wife to collect a life insurance payout and shot himself in the stomach to deflect suspicion.

"We are here today to acknowledge the tremendous pain that the city of Boston inflicted on Black residents throughout our neighborhoods 34 years ago," Wu said at a press conference at City Hall on Wednesday. The mayor was joined by Swanson, members of Bennett's family, and Boston police Commissioner Michael Cox, the Boston Globe reports. "I want to say to Mr. Swanson and Mr. Bennett, the entire Bennett family, and Boston's entire Black community, I am so sorry for what you endured," Wu said. "I am so sorry for the pain that you have carried for so many years. What was done to you was unjust, unfair, racist, and wrong."

Cox apologized on behalf of the police department for its "poor investigation, overzealous behavior, and more than likely unconstitutional behavior," the AP reports. After the killing, police targeted Black men in a "stop-and-frisk campaign" focusing on the city's Mission Hill neighborhood, and sidelined the first two detectives on the case, who had immediate doubts about Stuart's story. In its investigation of the case, the Globe found that no fewer than 33 people were aware that Stuart had killed his wife by the time his brother Matthew, who confessed to being an accomplice, went to police. (More Boston stories.)

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