The Boston Police Department announced yesterday that an on-duty Police Officer named Dennis O. Simmonds, died after “suffering a medical emergency” at the Boston Police Academy on Thursday. Officer Simmonds was recently honored at the Boston Police Relief Association Awards Ceremony for “his bravery during the initial Watertown shoot-out following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.”
In a Boston Globe article, a law enforcement official who knew Simmonds, said he was a health nut and loved to do CrossFit, run road races, and play basketball, and that he was, “the picture of health.”
According to Boston police Sergeant Michael McCarthy, the “medical emergency” happened just after lunch, during in-service training at the Boston police academy in Hyde Park. He was taken to the hospital and died late Thursday night. No further explanation has been given as to how he died. He was only 28 years old.
McCarthy said that Simmonds had been in the shootout with the alleged Marathon bombers and had suffered a head injury from the blast of an explosive thrown at him.
For his bravery in the Watertown shootout, Simmonds received the department’s highest honor, the Schroeder Brothers Memorial Medal. Simmonds’ father said, “he was not one to brag about the award,” and that “he didn’t like to be in the spotlight, so he didn’t showboat it too much.”
But like it or not, that spotlight was about to get a lot brighter for Simmonds. My Fox Boston reports that, Simmonds, “was set to go to Washington, D.C. next month to be presented by President Obama himself with one of the country’s highest honors for police,” because of his “service during the Watertown shootout.”
According to My Fox Boston, “Simmonds happened to be in that area the night of the Watertown shootout and he and his partner exchanged gunfire with the suspects.”
Simmonds’ service seem to be missing from many accounts of the shootout, which have various versions, so it is unfortunate that he died before many people might have had a chance to learn what his role or experience was during that night.
The story of the shootout remains somewhat mysterious as the major news networks, quoting anonymous officials, reported drastically different versions of what happened. Not much had been heard from the officers themselves until MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell scored one of the only interviews with the members of the Watertown Police who claimed to be the first on the scene. Their account doesn’t mention Simmonds being, “one of the first people to respond,” in fact their account doesn’t mention Simmonds at all. O’Donnell does little to clear the events up, concerned instead with highlighting how heroic the officers were.
My Fox Boston’s Heather Hegedus reports, “it is another sad day for Boston’s heroes, this is the fourth time in just a couple of weeks that one of Boston’s first responders has died in an untimely manner.
Another officer who had taken part in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation, identified as Gregory Maloney, had just recently died in a motorcycle accident while traveling with a fellow officer. The cause of the crash is still being investigated.