Rev. Talbert Swan to address ‘inflammatory comments’ linked to police shooting case

By Conor Berry, The Republican, November 14, 2011

Talbet Swan, left, and Tahiem Goffe.
SPRINGFIELD — The Rev. Talbert Swan II, pastor of The Spring of Hope Church Of God In Christ, said he plans to discuss his call for an independent probe into a recent fatal police shooting of an alleged car thief and subsequent “inflammatory comments” posted on MassLive, the website of The Republican.
Swan said the issues will be discussed on his “Spoken Word” radio program on WTCC 90.7 FM on Monday at 9 a.m.
On Friday, Swan, Springfield branch president of the NAACP, voiced support for an independent probe into the shooting of 18-year-old Tahiem Goffe by Springfield police.
Officer Matthew Benoit and other officers pursued Goffe as he drove a stolen car on Taylor Street early on the morning of Nov. 6, police said. After cruisers caught up with the stolen vehicle, Goffe drove directly at officers, striking and injuring Benoit, police said. Benoit fired his gun in self-defense, police said.
The Springfield Police Department is conducting an internal review of the incident, and Hampden District Attorney Mark G. Mastroianni has pledged to “review the police investigation.” State police ballistics investigators also will participate in the review, Mastroianni said.
“My policy is to review all police shootings,” Mastroianni told The Republican on Friday.
Swan said the local NAACP chapter is requesting an independent investigation to “ensure that proper police procedures were employed and that the investigation will not be compromised.” That request elicited a strong response from MassLive readers, many of whom expressed displeasure with Swan and support for Benoit.
Some comments backed Swan’s call for an outside probe, while others questioned the Police Department’s ability to conduct an unbiased review of the incident, which triggered a large police response and closed down a section of Taylor Street for several hours.
As of early Monday, MassLive had received more than 530 comments on articles related to the Goffe case, including a “Your Comments” post that asked readers what they thought of Swan’s position. At the very least, Mastroianni should publicly release the results of his probe, Swan has said.
Frustration with the pastor, who has been a lightning rod for criticism in the past, was evident in many of the MassLive posts. Some comments were critical of police, while other remarks were racially charged. Benoit, who was placed on administrative leave after the shooting, is white. Goffe, who died last Monday from a single gunshot wound, was black.
Swan has come under fire for remarks about gays and lesbians, including his 2003 declaration that “homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle” and his concern with homosexuals who draw comparisons between their struggle and the black civil rights movement.
More recently, Swan was criticized by some for supporting Melvin Jones III, a career criminal who was beaten by a city police officer during a 2009 traffic stop. The officer accused in the beating claimed Jones reached for another officer’s gun and continued to struggle as police attempted to subdue him.
Swan’s radio program can be heard online at or viewed live at The live listener call-in line is (413) 736-2781.

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