By Harry Kane
Former Somerville police detective Mario Oliveira, who was wounded in the line of duty during a shootout in 2010, has been unable to perform his duty as an officer, leading to a decision by the City of Somerville and the Aldermen to pass a petition allowing Oliveira to retire and receive a pension, pending state legislature approval.
During the last Board of Alderman meeting on July 11, the petition was approved unanimously among the 11 aldermen. Before passing the petition, which will go to the state legislature for approval, each of the aldermen voiced their appreciation for the former officer.
Oliveira did return to the job following the shooting and attempted to acclimate, but due to health issues he is unable to remain on the Somerville police force. “We have one of our own that was injured in the line of duty,” Ward 7 Alderman Robert Trane said. Trane explained that Oliveira has tried his best to come back to work, but that Oliveira was unfit for duty. “It’s something I’ve watched him struggle with over the last year or so, and unfortunately his health is not going to allow that to happen.”
Detective Oliveira was shot five times on Nov. 2, 2010 at 6 Gibbens St. in Somerville. According to the Middlesex District Attorney and the State Police, the shooter, Matthew Krister, sold guns to gangsters, and was under investigation for purchasing firearms in New Hampshire, just before the incident.
Working alongside ATF Agent Brian Higgins, Detective Oliveira approached Krister, and was shot 5 times, twice in the stomach and chest and once in the arm, with Krister’s 9mm semi-automatic pistol. The other officers on the scene returned fire and killed Krister. Detective Oliveira survived.
The aldermen were in agreement regarding the need to pass the petition in a timely fashion. “It sends a message out there that we do care about those who put their lives on the line for us every single day,” Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston said. “It was quite a trauma to this city, and I think it’s only fitting and right that we support this and ask that the legislature act on this as quickly as possible.”
BOA Vice President Jack Connolly stated that the approval of the petition is arguably one of the most important items of the year. “There’s certainly, absolutely, no doubt the sacrifice that Mario has made in his attempt to recover from the extremely horrific situation,” said Connolly. “Anybody that’s known Mario in his pursuit of excellence throughout his career knows that he’s given it his best.”
“Wherever that flag is flown, we take care of our own,” added Connolly.
If the petition passes in the state legislature, which it presumably will, Mario Oliveira will receive a pension equal to 8o percent of the annual salary, according to the Somerville city solicitor.
Oliveira and his spouse were present at the BOA meeting. Oliveira relayed his gratitude to Mayor Curtatone, the aldermen and the Somerville police force. “I never thought in a million years, I’d be here before you under these circumstances,” he said in tears. “I wish I could have worked 40 years for the police department.”
“In my heart, I’ll always be a Somerville police officer,” he said.