Sep 3 2013

Police in North Attleborough recorded beating and pepper spraying man during arrest

Dr. Q

A man has published a video depicting North Attleborough police beating and pepper spraying his friend, who was a suspect in a domestic violence case. At first, the man refused orders to get on the ground as police beat and pepper sprayed him, but after he fell to his knees, the police continued beating him.

Here’s a video about the incident from Fox 25/WFXT:

The [North Attleborough Police Department] issued a press release after a video was released showing officers in a violent struggle with one man, ordering him to the ground, and hitting him with what appeared to be batons.

Officers received a domestic disturbance call Sunday from a woman claiming her ex-boyfriend was strangling her and attempting to prevent her from calling police; however, during the struggle, she was able to break away.

Minutes later, officers encountered the suspect outside the victim’s home on North Washington Street. The suspect, who was much larger than either of the responding officers, police said, allegedly laughed and told them, “There are just two of you? You better call for back up.”

According to police, the man was immediately combative and would not listen to officers. He refused to get on the ground despite officers’ repeated requests, and at one point, he even allegedly took a fighting stance with his fists raised.

In the video, it appears the suspect pushed an officer and took a swing at another. The four officers appear to hit and use pepper spray on the suspect. After more than a minute, he finally falls to his knees. Police continue to hit him with batons, something witnesses say was over the top.

And here’s the raw video:

According to Fox 25, “Police acknowledged the video and said all information is being thoroughly reviewed.” So, the police say they are reviewing what happened, yet they have already tried to exonerate the officers in the court of public opinion with their press release which offers nothing but justifications for the officers’ violence. This is precisely why all investigations of excessive force allegations and other misconduct allegations against police should be handled independently from the police department and local DA’s office. There is an inherent conflict of interest when a police officer is investigated by his or her colleagues.

This story should also be a reminder to everyone that you should always record the police when you see them. You never know what might happen. Few people are going to take the word of a domestic violence suspect and his friend over the word of the police, so it’s important for the public to have objective records of police encounters.

Jan 9 2012

News Roundup for the New Year

Dr. Q

As I said toward the end of last year, I will now be posting weekly news roundups. Instead of trying to write detailed articles about every police misconduct and police accountability-related story I come across, I will post links on the Massachusetts Cop Block Facebook and Twitter pages and make a weekly post that includes brief summaries of all the stories I found during the past week. Currently, I plan to post a news roundup every Monday.

First, here are a few stories from late last year:

  • The Lowell Sun reports that Vesna Nuon, who was just elected to the Lowell City Council, accepted a $50,000 settlement from the city. Nuon was suing the city over a 2008 incident in which Lowell Police Officer Brian Kinney allegedly arrested him on a bogus “disorderly conduct” charge after he threatened to call Kinney’s supervisor and complain about his unprofessional behavior. As part of the settlement, Kinney must also apologize to Nuon.
  • WGGB-TV reports that Spingfield Police Officer Rafael Nazario has been charged with rape and indecent assault and battery after allegedly raping an 18-year-old woman.
  • The Sun Chronicle reports that cocaine and other drugs have gone missing from the Attleboro Police Department’s evidence room. Police Chief Kyle Heagney said he suspects that a cop is responsible and has launched an investigation. The Boston Herald reports that Heagney wishes he could drug test the officers in his department, but their union contract bars him from doing so.

And here the the first Massachusetts police misconduct and police accountability-related stories of the new year:

  • The Boston Herald reports that state trooper John Bergeron shot a woman while hunting. The state police have described the incident as an accident, but Environmental Police are still investigating.
  • WBZ-TV reports that Charlton police terrified a 5-year-old girl when they sent an officer to collect her overdue library books. Seems like a colossal overreaction, not to mention a waste of police resources. As one person who shared the story with me sarcastically commented, “All other crimes have been solved!”
  • The Boston Herald reports that the FBI has arrested state police officer John M. Analetto on extortion charges. Analetto has been accused of lending an FBI informant money in exchange for a piece of his business and threatening to murder the informant multiple times.
  • reports that black box data disclosed by the state police shows Lt. Governor Tim Murray was driving 100 MPH and not wearing his seatbelt when he totaled his taxpayer-funded car during the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Both Murray and the state police previously said accident was caused by black ice, but the release of the black box data have forced them to revise their story. They both now claim that Murray probably fell asleep at the wheel. Previously, the state police refused to release the black box data to the public even though they are required to by the Massachusetts Public Records Law, however, they finally released the data when Murray asked them to. Murray will be issued a $555 traffic citation.
  • The Cape Cod Times reports that a judge ruled that Sandwich police violated a teen football player’s rights when they interrogated him without offering to record the interrogation.
  • The Enterprise reports that former Brockton police lieutenant Charles Lincoln has been jailed for failing to make alimony payments to his ex-wife. Lincoln, now retired, became infamous when he called out sick more than 100 times in three years so he could work a second job as the head of a county jail and amass a huge pension. Lincoln has collected his $140,000 a year pension at taxpayer expense since 2004.
  • Lastly, a man uploaded a YouTube video a few days ago which apparently depicts Haverhill police searching his home. The man frantically tells the camera that the police have entered his home without cause and assaulted him. At the end of the video, the police notice they are on camera and threaten to arrest the man for recording him. While I can’t confirm the man’s version of events, I will say that police have no right to arrest people for openly recording them. This man may want to consult a lawyer.

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