Nov 8 2013

Chicopee police sergeant charged with assaulting female prisoner

Dr. Q

The Republican reports:

A veteran Chicopee police officer is facing assault charges from a February struggle with a prisoner who was spraying blood and saliva from her mouth as officers attempted to restrain her, court and police records show.

Reversing a clerk-magistrate’s decision, Holyoke District Court Judge Maureen E. Walsh ruled last month that Chicopee Police Sgt. Daniel Major can be charged with assault and battery for his handling of a prisoner who admitted being drunk and under the influence of the street drug PCP, according to police.

After reviewing the booking videotape 30 times, Walsh said the sergeant could have been acting out of frustration, not concern for his health, when he grabbed the prisoner by the throat and forced her to the floor.

“The facts in this case are not so crystal clear,” Walsh wrote in her Oct. 17 decision, adding the sergeant’s self-defense claim was not supported by “uncontradicted facts.”

The prisoner, identified as Maylene Maldonado, of Chicopee, was arrested by officer John Birks for assault and battery on a police officer after she inflicted several wounds to his face. At the police station, the prisoner, who was handcuffed, was yelling, screaming and urging six officers present to remove a piercing that was cutting her lip, according to Walsh’s ruling.

“In the videotape, Ms. Maldonado certainty appears agitated, argumentative and at times loud and non-compliant during most if not all of the booking,” Walsh wrote.

Major eventually grabbed Maldonado by the throat “because she was bleeding from her lip and spraying small droplets of blood and saliva,” Walsh said. The sergeant claims that his actions were reasonable and necessary to “protect himself and others against potentially dangerous substance (blood),” the judge said.

Major pleaded innocent to the charge Wednesday in Holyoke District Court and was released on personal recognizance.

The arrest has echoes of the West Springfield case involving Daniel O’Brien, the police captain fired last week after he was accused of several violations including taping the mouth of a spitting woman who had been taken into custody.

In Chicopee, an internal police review found that Major did not violate departmental rules, according to Capt. Mark Gilbert, who said he reviewed video footage of the booking process multiple times and found nothing objectionable.

A clerk-magistrate’s hearing in September seconded that assessment, ruling that no charges should be filed against Major.

Hampden District Attorney Mark G. Mastroianni successfully appealed that ruling, however, and Major is due back in Chicopee District Court for a Dec. 6 pretrial hearing on an assault and battery charge.

And here is a video from ABC40 on this case:


Nov 1 2013

Natick police officer arrested for allegedly assaulting girlfriend

Dr. Q

The MetroWest Daily News reports:

A Natick Police officer arrested Thursday and charged with beating his girlfriend is on leave from the department, authorities said.

Sean David Munger, 32, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of assault and battery at his Framingham District Court arraignment Thursday.

Prosecutor Rachel Perlman said police went to Dartmouth Street around 2:30 a.m. for a report of a dispute and were greeted by Munger’s 23-year-old girlfriend. She had several bruises on her face, swollen areas and a two-inch abrasion on her face, the prosecutor said.

The woman said Munger had hit her. She told police he had gotten on top of her and punched her twice on each side of her face, before she fled the home and began knocking on neighbors’ doors for about a half hour before someone let her in to call police, Perlman said.

The woman told police Munger had hit her in the past, but she never reported it. She also told police “she feared she would be killed by this defendant,” Perlman said.

Perlman asked Judge Robert Greco to hold Munger, of Dartmouth Street, on $500 bail, order him to turn over any firearms and to stay away and not contact the victim.

She said police had already taken away Munger’s gun and license to carry.

Munger’s lawyer, Charles Kelley, argued bail was not necessary. He said Munger has been a police officer in town for six years, was a graduate of Natick High School and was not a flight risk.

Munger also denied the allegations, Kelley said.

“He’s not going anywhere,” said Kelley. “He plans on contesting the charges.”

Greco released Munger without bail. He ordered Munger to not contact and to stay away from the victim and to turn over all firearms to the police department.

In a statement, Natick Police said, “The matter is currently under investigation and one involving personnel decisions. Officer Munger is presently on administrative leave.”

Greco said the case will be transferred from Framingham District Court to another court because Munger frequently testifies during hearings and trials in Framingham.

Munger is due back in court on Dec. 4 for a pretrial conference.


Oct 23 2013

Mendon police lieutenant charged with attacking fellow officers with knife, taser

Dr. Q

Recently, Lieutenant Donald R. Blanchette, Jr. of the Mendon Police Department was placed on paid leave while under investigation for misconduct by the Worcester District Attorney’s Office. The Police Department and DA’s office refused to say what he was being investigated for. Now, the officer is facing criminal charges and the results of the investigation have been disclosed.

The Telegram & Gazette reports:

Lt. Blanchette, 50, pleaded not guilty Monday in Milford District Court to four counts of assault and battery, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and a count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Judge Robert Calagione ordered Lt. Blanchette to stay away from the alleged victims.

The judge allowed motions to impound or redact the lieutenant’s address and waived his appearance at the next pretrial conference. The case was continued to Dec. 16.

The judge indicated he intends to have the case transferred to another court, Timothy J. Connolly, a spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr., said today.

Lt. Blanchette was arrested Monday by state police assigned to Mr. Early’s office.

The lieutenant allegedly assaulted Officer Christopher Bettencourt with a knife on Sept. 10, the police report said.

Officer Bettencourt was placed in fear when the lieutenant raised an open folding tactical knife toward Officer Bettencourt’s neck and groin, state police said.

On “diverse dates” from Jan. 11 to May 17, Lt. Blanchette assaulted Officer Bruce Poirier by striking him with a closed fist, the report said.

Without notice or provocation the lieutenant punched Officer Poirier in the chest, state police said.

Within the same time, Lt. Blanchette struck Officer Poirier’s chest and back, state police said.

On Sept. 17, Lt. Blanchette struck Officer Bettencourt in the ribs, investigators said.

From 2008 to 2013, Lt. Blanchette struck Officer Bettencourt in the chest. He punched Officer Bettencourt in the arm with a closed fist without notice or provocation, the report said.

On or about Jan. 11, Lt. Blanchette attempted to use his department issued Taser to “drive stun” Officer Poirier in the groin, state police said.

From Nov. 19 to April 29, Lt. Blanchette aimed a Taser at Officer Poirier, the report said.

From 2008 to January 2010, Lt. Blanchette used “an antenna-like” device in a whipping motion to strike Officer Poirier, the report said.

Last week, Mendon Police Chief Ernest Horn confirmed that Lt. Blanchette had been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

On Tuesday, Chief Horn said Lt. Blanchette will be transferring to medical leave at the end of the week for an unrelated medical issue.


Oct 19 2013

Curry College campus officer fired after home invasion arrest

Dr. Q

The Patriot Ledger reports:

A Marshfield man being held without bail on home invasion and gun charges for allegedly entering the home of a woman he knows and pointing a police baton and a handgun at her has been fired from his job as a public safety officer at Curry College.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Frances L. Jackson, director of communication at the Milton college, confirmed that Paul Kodzis, 26, of 54 Primrose Lane had been fired.

“The matter remains under investigation with external law enforcement agencies, and the college is grateful for their service,’’ Jackson said.

Kodzis was arraigned Tuesday in Plymouth District Court on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, home invasion with a firearm, domestic assault, improper storage of a large-capacity firearm, armed burglary and witness intimidation.

Kodzis’ bail may be reconsidered following a dangerousness hearing scheduled for Friday.

Marshfield police arrested Kodzis on Monday night after a woman went to the police station to report that she had awakened at about 1 a.m. Monday to find a man, later identified as Kodzis, pointing a police baton and handgun at her and yelling, Marshfield police Lt. Paul Taber said. Taber said the woman, who lives in Marshfield, knows Kodzis “from the past.”

The woman told police she ran into the room of one of her roommates, and Kodzis followed her. The roommates were then able to talk Kodzis into handing over the gun, Taber said.

The witnesses told police they left the gun in the bathroom while the victim called Kodzis’ parents, who “picked him up and took control of the gun and the police baton that he had brought with him,” Taber said.

Police found two loaded, unsecured handguns in the attic of Kodzis’ home, Taber said.

Police have since suspended Kodzis’ license to carry firearms.


Oct 18 2013

Worcester police officer already under house arrest now charged with rape, assault

Dr. Q

A Worcester police officer who has been under house arrest while facing assault and drug charges is now facing new charges of rape and assault. The Telegram & Gazette reports:

A Worcester police officer under house arrest for an alleged domestic assault is also being charged with four counts of rape and three counts of assault and battery.

Robert A. Farrar, 42, of 2 Misty Meadow Lane, Oxford, is to be arraigned Nov. 11 in Dudley District Court.

Thursday, a clerk magistrate found probable cause against Officer Farrar on the additional charges of rape and assault and battery.

Officer Farrar had been charged previously with assault and battery, aggravated assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a belt) and possession of Percocet, all in connection with an alleged domestic assault Sept. 26 at his home at 170 Prince Road, Southbridge.

In both cases, Judge Timothy M. Bibaud allowed a motion, made by the district attorney’s office, to impound the probable cause narratives.

Officer Farrar is a 19-year veteran of the Worcester Police Department. He was placed on paid administrative leave, per department policy. As a result, the Worcester Police Department’s Bureau of Professional Standards is conducting an internal investigation.

This police officer has been charged with ten violent crimes, yet has been given a paid vacation at taxpayer expense.

Update (11/14/2013): The Telegram & Gazette reports that Farrar is no longer under house arrest.

A Worcester police officer who has been under house arrest for more than a month no longer has to wear an electronic monitoring device as he awaits trial in a domestic assault case.

On Tuesday, lawyer Anthony M. Salerno made an oral motion for removal of the electronic monitoring device of his client, Officer Farrar.

Mr. Salerno said his client has been under electronic monitoring for more than a month and has shown excellent compliance with all terms and conditions placed upon him.

Assistant District Attorney John Sares objected to the motion for removal.

During a short recess, Judge Bibaud called Judge Robert J. Pellegrini, who originally ordered the electronic monitoring device to be placed on Officer Farrar, before allowing the motion for removal. As a result, Officer Farrar has been restored to previous conditions of bail and personal recognizance.

In addition, Judge Bibaud allowed a motion to impound the address of the defendant’s sister’s home, where Officer Farrar has been staying since his release. At 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Officer Farrar returned his electronic monitoring device to Dudley District Court.


Oct 12 2013

Jury sides with Framingham police sergeant in federal lawsuit

Dr. Q

The MetroWest Daily News reports:

After more than three and a half years, Framingham Police Sgt. Scott Brown said his name is finally cleared.

On Sept. 16, a federal jury dismissed claims by a former Framingham couple that Brown pointed a gun at them in April 2010.

“It’s relief,” said Brown. “It’s been hanging over me. At this point, they were just going for money.

Jorge Correia and his wife, Cathleen Runnals, filed the suit against Brown and the town, as well as several other police officers, after Brown was found not guilty in a criminal trial in May 2011 that charged him with assault and battery. A federal judge removed everyone but Brown and the town from the suit prior to the six-day trial that ended on Sept. 16.

The pair were seeking $1 million in damages from the town.

Correia and Runnals told police that Brown and his partner, then Detective Leonard Pini, pulled into the EZ Storage facility on 501 Cochituate Road, Framingham, on April 29, 2010 and Runnals confronted Brown about urinating outdoors on the property.

When Correia rushed over to see what the commotion was. Correia claimed that Brown threatened him with his handgun. Brown said he only pointed at Correia and told him to move.

After an investigation, the Middlesex district attorney’s office charged Brown with assault with a dangerous weapon and threatening to commit a crime. Middlesex Superior Court Judge Paul Chernoff found Brown not guilty after a seven-day bench trial.

In the civil trial, Runnals and Correia alleged assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent supervision. The jury deliberated for 40 minutes before finding the town and Brown not responsible.

Neither Correia nor Runnals could be reached for comment.

Brown said he’s glad to move on.

“It still bothers me that I had to go through all of that,” said Brown. “You can’t have all that in you’re head. You have to keep going forward.”