April 9, 2017

Editorial: Tarentino killing could — and should — mark turning point for state law

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Sam Doran / State House News Service

Gov. Charlie Baker

Legislation proposed by Gov. Charlie Baker last week would toughen the state’s stance against physical attacks on police. The legislation is sensible — and it is of particular interest in Central Massachusetts.

“An Act Relative to Assault and Battery on a Police Officer” had its painful beginnings in Auburn months ago, in the after-midnight darkness on the leafy roadside of an otherwise quiet residential thoroughfare.

During a traffic stop early Sunday, May 22, 2016, Police Officer Ronald Tarentino was fatally shot in the back, allegedly by the man he’d pulled over on Rochdale Street.

The suspect, 35-year-old Jorge Zambrano — himself killed later that day in a shootout with police — was the sort of person who had made clear for years that he was a nightmare up and down the law enforcement system. He reportedly had racked up more than 80 cases in the courts, including three that mentioned fights with police, and was due for his next appearance before a judge the following month.

Baker’s proposal came on the heels of the question many of us were asking last spring: Why was this guy still on the streets?

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