Local activist charged with drunk driving

October 14, 2011
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Ron Bell, a prominent Mission Hill activist and aide to Gov. Deval Patrick, was charged with drunk driving and had his license suspended in an incident in Brookline at 3:35 a.m. on Oct. 1.

Upon being stopped, Bell’s first words to the officer were “Don’t shoot me. Don’t shoot me,” the Brookline Police Department report says. Bell, who serves on Gov. Deval Patrick’s staff as Senior Advisor for Community Affairs, repeatedly informed the officers that he works for the governor, according to the report.

Both Bell and his lawyer, Herb Cohen, declined to comment for this story.

Gazette calls to the Governor’s Office were not returned by press time. According to media reports, Bell has been put on unpaid leave until the matter is resolved.

Bell is a Milton resident, but he grew up in Mission Hill and is a prominent figure here. He first gained attention in 1992 when he founded Dunk the Vote, an organization that has registered tens of thousands of young voters, especially in minority communities. He founded and leads the Harmony on the Hill initiative, a neighborhood-wide effort last year to reflect on race-relations on the Hill on the 20th anniversary of the slaying of Carol Stuart. And he coaches 13 and under basketball at the Johnson Community Center and runs the local Top Shot Youth Basketball Camp.

In March, Bell suffered a major heart attack. He told the Gazette at the time that he wanted to start focusing on promoting a healthy lifestyle so that others could avoid his problems.

A Brookline Police officer first noticed Bell on Boylston Street. when, passing the officer’s cruiser, Bell almost hit him, according to the report. Bell was recorded as traveling 52 mph in a 30 mph zone, the report says.

According to the report, Bell failed multiple field sobriety tests, and, at one point was handcuffed because, according to the report, he was exhibiting “strange behavior” that caused the officers concern “for our safety.”

According to the report, that behavior included repeatedly reaching under the front seat of his SUV—reaching for a weapon, the officers feared. After Bell stepped out of the vehicle “his behavior became more unusual, he began reaching around his pants and shirt and at times reaching his hands up over his head and out at officers.”

Bell later explained that he had lost a false front tooth, the report says.

Bell was charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor; marked lane violations; and speeding.

Boston Police Department spokesperson Elaine Driscoll told the Gazette Bell had been involved in a minor traffic collision earlier in the evening. Bell and the other driver exchanged information and no charges were pressed, she said.

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