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: