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Tragic accident mustn’t be tainted by conflict

Melvin B. Miller

Nothing is more devastating than the sudden death of a family member who is young and healthy. The accidental death of 17-year-old Alonzo J. Polk IV, who drowned in a swimming pool last June at the home of a Dedham High School classmate, is indeed a tragedy. The grief-stricken family is inadvertently creating the impression that the misadventure is somehow race-related.

The owners of the house in Dedham, retired State Police Captain James E. Coughlin and his wife, Leslie, had to appear in Dedham District Court on charges of reckless endangerment of a child and providing alcohol to a person under the age of 21. They pleaded not guilty to both misdemeanors.

The tone of protest of Polk’s relatives is in the style of anti-racist attacks. Yet there is no assertion to support such a view. Earlier reports indicate Polk is well-thought-of by his Dedham High classmates. According to the Globe report, Roshawn Drane, Polk’s brother, is offended that the Coughlins could leave court without bail being assessed.

Such a misunderstanding of the bail law creates the impression that justice is not being followed. However, it is rare for bail to be established for anything less than the most serious felonies.

Polk was popular and well-liked. One wonders what his attitude would be towards his friends and their families if he were here.

Alonzo J. Polk, editorial