Republic of Mas
11-17-05, 03:09 AM
On November 5, 2005 at 12:42 a.m. (0042 hrs) Swansea Police Officers were dispatched to a reported motor vehicle accident, involving a Swansea Police Cruiser. Officers discovered a head on crash in the westbound lane of Rt. 6, (GAR highway) near Country Gardens Nursing Home. Both operators were trapped in their vehicles. The Swansea Ambulance and Swansea Fire Department were called to the scene for extrication. Both persons were transported to Charlton Memorial Hospital.
Sgt. Robert Cabral was pronounced dead at the hospital. Sgt, Cabral was a 26 year veteran of the Swansea Police Department, and was in charge of the midnight to eight shift.
The operator of the other vehicle was Wayne Smith, 49 years old, of 91 Peach Street in Swansea. He is being held at the hospital due to his injuries. His injuries do not appear to be life threatening.
Wayne Smith was arrested. He is currently charged with Operating Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor so as to Endanger, resulting in Homicide by Motor Vehicle; Operating Negligently so as to Endanger; and failure to stay in marked lanes. The Clerk of Courts has ordered Mr. Smith held in custody without bail.
The arrest and accident remain under investigation by the Swansea Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police Accident Reconstruction Team, and the Massachusetts State Police Detectives Unit.
Sgt. Robert Cabral has been posthumously promoted to the rank of Lieutenant effective this date.
Republic of Mas
11-17-05, 03:11 AM
Officer Bob's killer was released from the hospital and custody on bail the day before he was burried. He was charged with OUI Homicide, as well as three other offences, including Possesion of Class D (Marijuana). He was a volunteer firefighter in town. He, like every other of the 20,000+ residents of Swansea knew Officer Bob.
Officer Bob was an enormous part of our community.
Check the Memorial Guestbook http://www.swanseapolice.com/memorial-guestbook.htm for some comments from residents and fellow officers.
Officer Bob is known as that, despite his rank, due to his community involvement in the schools with DARE and coaching highschool teams. He was the Highschool Girl's Soccer coach, and volunteered his time in the Middle School as the community's DARE officer. Funding was cut for the DARE program a few years ago, but he continued to do the program on his own time. He made sure that every kid in school knew him, and he knew every student by name.
I was working dispatch for the town just North of Swansea (I'm a swansea resident) at the time of the incident, and sent 3/4 of my cars to Swansea to assist. It was very tough sitting behind that desk when I found out who the officer involved was.
06-27-07, 08:53 PM
Family fumes over light sentence in officer’s death
01:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, June 27, 2007
By Alisha A. Pina
Journal Staff Writer
BEDFORD — A Superior Court judge yesterday gave the lightest sentence allowed by Massachusetts law to the former volunteer firefighter who killed Police Lt. Robert M. Cabral, a popular and beloved Swansea DARE officer, in a drunken-driving accident.
Tom Cabral, the lieutenant’s brother, pounded his fists on his thighs as Judge Robert C. Rufo explained why no less than five years and no more than seven was sufficient. Courtroom officers moved closer to Cabral as the judge said the loss was “truly a tragedy,” but Wayne R. Smith, 50, was “truly remorseful of his actions.”
The rest of the judge’s decision was barely audible because of strident sobs from other Cabral family members. Smith’s family and friends, who publicly pleaded for leniency earlier, were tearful as well, but quiet.
“I never expected it to be the minimum,” Tom Cabral said afterward. He called the judge “spineless.”
“A cop’s life is apparently worth five to seven years in Massachusetts. Five to seven years is a joke. My brother got a life sentence.”
Smith’s blood alcohol level — .23 —was nearly three times the legal limit early in the morning of Nov. 5, 2005, when he drove his Ford pick-up truck eastbound on Route 6. He crossed the center line into opposing traffic without his headlights on and hit Cabral’s police cruiser head on.
Smith started drinking in the early evening hours of Nov. 4 at a firefighters’ fundraiser at a local Knights of Columbus hall. He continued to drink after he left when he went to hear a fellow firefighter’s band play at a nearby bar. He was heading home when the accident occurred.
Cabral’s family said the lieutenant was driving to the bar, as he always did on the weekends, to bring those who had been drinking home, or to at least make sure they got home safely. The school DARE officer practiced what he preached, not drinking or smoking, they told Rufo on June 4 when Smith changed his plea to guilty, and again yesterday.
“To be killed by a drunk driver is beyond comprehension,” said Susan Shucker, Lieutenant Cabral’s sister, before the judge made his ruling. “I hope today that you send a message that he didn’t die in vain.”
Massachusetts legislators passed Melanie’s Law, which stiffened drunken-driving penalties, two weeks before Smith killed Cabral. It is named after Melanie Powell, a 13-year-old Marshfield, Mass., girl who was killed when she was struck by a repeat drunken driver.
Manslaughter under the influence of alcohol, the charge Smith pleaded guilty to June 4, was a new crime created by the bill. The penalty calls for a mandatory 5-year minimum prison sentence, a fine of not more than $25,000 and a suspended license for at least 15 years. The maximum sentence is 20 years.
First Assistant District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn asked the judge to give Smith 7 to 10 years because Smith drank a substantial amount of alcohol and drove recklessly without his headlights on. Smith also showed poor judgment and “should have known better” because he was a volunteer firefighter.
Yet Smith’s family and friends — who described both men as great contributors to their town, selfless and caring human beings and amazing fathers — say it was an unfortunate and terrible accident.
“He’s a law-abiding citizen who works hard,” said Smith’s brother, Everett J. Smith, a Fall River constable and former Massachusetts correctional officer. “I truly understand the tragedy and injustice the family is feeling, but an excessive amount of time will serve no purpose because he’s not a repeat offender.”
Wayne Smith, who shook and sobbed in his hands, said, “I’m so sorry for everything I’ve done. I made a big mistake and I just think about it every day. It will never go away. I’m sorry.”
His words and the judge’s decision, however, did not comfort the Cabral family. They said the judge fell for the “dog-and-pony show.” Tom Cabral said if Smith was so remorseful, he would have pleaded guilty 19 months ago.
“[Lieutenant Cabral] used to say, ‘Good people make mistakes and good people do bad things,’ ” said Jeffrey S. Entin, Smith’s lawyer, before the sentencing. After saying Smith was a good man, he continued: “He’s not the type of defendant to make an example of.”
The Cabral family was further enraged when Entin, who lives in Swansea, said there were other police officers and firefighters at the bar that night with Smith. They believed Smith was capable of driving home and let him go.
“They are trying to make everyone else look like criminals and he [Smith] was the victim,” Cabral family members screamed outside while the judge took a recess before giving Smith’s sentence. “He’s the guy that did it.”
The lieutenant’s other sister, Josephine Lapre, of Warren, said, “When are people going to get it? The gun was [Smith’s] car, the beer was the bullet and the accelerator was the trigger. Our hearts are broken, we are one member down. If it happened to our brother, it could happen to yours.”
The family also said Melanie’s Law apparently isn’t good enough if it only applies to repeat offenders. They asked everyone to contact their legislators and fight for stricter penalties. While Swansea Police Chief George Arruda, who said he felt “empty” yesterday, agreed the laws should be tougher, Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter said the laws were sufficient even though he wasn’t pleased with Smith’s sentence.
“One voice isn’t going to be good enough,” Tom Cabral said while shaking his head. “Our brother was murdered. I can’t live in a state where my brother’s life was bargained off for five to seven years.”