Road Rage Incident Could Undermine Radical Prosecutor's Promotion to U.S. Attorney

Then-Suffolk County, Mass., DA Rachael Rollins in 2021 / Twitter screenshot
February 3, 2021

Massachusetts's Democratic attorney general has confirmed an ongoing investigation into a road rage allegation against Boston's top prosecutor, Rachael Rollins, a liberal firebrand who is on the Biden administration's shortlist to be nominated for U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

The investigation into Rollins, who has embraced such radical policy positions as halting prosecution of drug dealers, stems from a Christmas Eve parking lot incident during which she allegedly cut a woman off, threatened to write her a ticket, and then used her car's police lights to zoom away through a red light as she shouted, "Today is not the day to try me!" Rollins has denied the allegations—and snapped at local reporters who've asked about them–but Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey said in her monthly public radio interview that her office is yet to close the investigation it launched in early January.

The investigation comes as Rollins is on the cusp of a major promotion. Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey put Rollins on their list of recommended candidates for the U.S. attorney post, which was sent to the White House just days after news of the investigation first surfaced. Healey said in the interview that the potential nomination is not affecting her "thorough" investigation, which she hopes is concluded "soon."

The flareups from Rollins, however, have continued since the Christmas Eve incident. When Boston media waited outside Rollins's house to ask her about the complaint, she was filmed threatening to arrest them, telling the reporter, "I'll call the police on you and make an allegation and we'll see how that works with you."

Rollins has also lashed out on Twitter, comparing her accuser to Carolyn Bryant, the white woman who in 1955 falsely accused Emmett Till, a young black man, of sexual harassment, leading to his eventual lynching.

"Some women have the luxury of saying whatever they want and being believed," Rollins wrote. "Must be nice."

While Rollins bemoans society's tendency to believe the accusations of white women, she herself was a vocal supporter of Christine Blasey Ford, a white woman, during Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings.

Rollins confirmed last December that she was in talks with Biden's team about the U.S. attorney position. Neither Warren nor Markey responded to requests for comment on the ongoing investigation and whether it impacts their recommendation.

Rollins was first elected as Suffolk County's district attorney in 2018, running on a platform of decriminalizing nonviolent crimes such as shoplifting and drug possession. In March 2019, she unveiled "The Rachael Rollins Policy Memo," a liberal manifesto on criminal-justice reform that advocated for a halt in prosecution for crimes such as "malicious destruction of property" and "drug possession with intent to distribute."

In recent months Rollins has won headlines by advocating for the mass release of inmates due to the coronavirus and said it was racist to administer vaccines at Boston's Fenway Park, complaining that the baseball stadium is a place where "fans scream racial slurs at MLB players and people [sing] the national anthem."

Kate Lawson, the Massachusetts woman who filed the road rage complaint, said she believed Rollins was a cop during the parking lot incident. A local blog, Turtle Boy Sports, noted that Rollins is prosecuting a Boston police officer with improperly writing a traffic ticket. Rollins said that actions like the officer's "harm the ability of every member of law enforcement to effectively perform their vital duties."

Rollins did not respond to a request for comment about the incident or its aftermath.