A retired Massachusetts state police captain and his wife are facing charges after authorities say a teen drowned at a graduation party hosted at their home last month.
A court-clerk magistrate ruled Wednesday there was probable cause to bring charges against former trooper James Coughlin and his wife Leslie in the death of 17-year-old Alonzo Polk, whose body was reportedly pulled from the couple’s pool on June 6 — just hours after his high school graduation, according to WCVB.
Both James and Leslie Coughlin are charged with reckless endangerment of a child and procuring alcohol to persons under 21, according to The Boston Herald.
Polk’s family, who had been been demanding justice, welcomed the judge’s decision.
“We appreciate what happened here today,” the teen’s brother Roshawn Drane said after Wednesday’s hearing, The Boston Herald reported. “It’s one step of a long road, and I want to make sure in this long road that there’s justice for Alonzo.”
Polk was a recent graduate of Dedham High School in Dedham, a city about 25 miles southwest of Boston. Family and friends remembered him as an “aspiring achiever, beloved son, grandson, brother and friend,” according to an obituary posted online.
The teen was attending a backyard graduation party for the Coughlins’ daughter when he drowned, MassLive reported, citing a spokesperson for the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office. He was reportedly shoved into the pool by a friend who was unaware that he couldn’t swim.
McClatchy News contacted Dedham police and the district attorney’s office for official reports Thursday and is awaiting a response.
Officers responded to the couple’s Netta Road home around 12:30 a.m. to find “several obviously intoxicated high school age individuals as well as many empty beer cans” littering the grass, according to The Boston Globe. In a police report obtained by the newspaper, officers also noted that the in-ground pool was poorly lit.
Polk received CPR at the scene and was taken to a hospital, where he died four days later on June 10.
Authorities later thumbed through photos taken during the alcohol-fueled shindig, “including one that depicted the 17-year-old drowning victim sitting at a table with several empty alcohol containers in front of him,” Dedham Police Sgt. Michael Feeley said at the hearing, according to WCVB.
The Coughlins and other adults were out near the pool but went inside at some point, police said, leaving the teens unattended, according to WCVB.
Brian Kelly, an attorney for the Coughlins, has argued the child endangerment charges are unwarranted and said his client was one of several people who tried resuscitating Polk after he was pulled from the pool, according to The Boston Globe.
“They are heartbroken that it happened,” Kelly told the newspaper. “But not every accident is a crime.”
It’s unclear when James and Leslie Coughlin will be arraigned.