Troopers suspended over pursuit video that shows pummeling
Two state troopers were suspended for punching a driver they chased from Massachusetts to New Hampshire on Wednesday.
Aram Boghosian/The Boston Globe via AP/Pool
Troopers in two states were suspended Thursday amid an ongoing criminal investigation into police use of force against a suspect who was filmed being beaten by officers after apparently surrendering following a long high-speed chase.
One Massachusetts state trooper and one New Hampshire state trooper were suspended after a 50-mile police pursuit that started in Holden, Mass., and ended in Nashua, N.H. The driver, Richard Simone Jr., was arrested after he stepped slowly from his pickup truck, kneeled and put his hands on the ground. Footage from a news helicopter shows officers then setting upon him, pummeling him with punches.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan expressed concern about the events shown in the video.
"I thought the video was incredibly disturbing and I'm anxious to work with the folks in New Hampshire to get moving on the investigation and to figure out what's what as quickly as possible and take the appropriate action," said Gov. Baker, a Republican.
Gov. Hassan said she had reached out to authorities about the video.
"I have been in contact with the attorney general and the Commissioner of Safety," said Hassan, a Democrat. "It is important and appropriate that the attorney general's office has opened an investigation into the incident."
In court Thursday, Mr. Simone agreed to be taken back to Massachusetts to face outstanding warrants there on assault with a deadly weapon and larceny. His court-appointed lawyer, Tony Sculimbrene, said Simone would seek medical attention but would not elaborate after the hearing.
The focus, however, centered on the officers' actions after the chase that reached speeds of more than 100 mph.
Jeffery A. Strelzin, a senior assistant attorney general in New Hampshire, said his office would be investigating "what force was used, by whom, and whether it was appropriate under the law."
New Hampshire state police Col. Robert Quinn, who also called the video disturbing, said he suspended one of his troopers without pay and stripped him all law enforcement authority. Massachusetts Col. Richard McKeon said he also suspended a trooper, pending an internal hearing scheduled for Friday.
Simone was arraigned on a fugitive-from-justice charge in Nashua District Court and was expected to be turned over to Massachusetts authorities. It wasn't clear when that would happen.
His public defender made a reference to Simone's "medical condition" and got approval for him to sit in court. Simone didn't appear to have any bruises, but his mug shot showed blood on his left ear.
The chase began when Simone refused to stop for police in Holden. He was wanted on multiple warrants for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, larceny and failure to stop for police, according to court documents.
Holden police chased him, and a Massachusetts State Police cruiser followed. The chase went through several towns and ended in a residential neighborhood in Nashua, where police had laid out spike strips.
The pursuit lasted about an hour.
Simone's pickup truck made abrupt lane changes and crashed at least once, said David Procopio, spokesman with the Massachusetts State Police.
Helicopter video showed the pickup truck stopped next to a utility pole on a dead-end street before police officers surrounded it with their weapons drawn. The driver stepped from the truck, got onto the ground and was on all fours and lowering himself when the officers moved in.
Simone is no stranger to law enforcement. The Worchester Telegram-Gazette reported that he almost rammed a police cruiser in a separate chase three days earlier.
Court records show that Simone eluded police in Millbury, Massachusetts, who had tried to stop him for an outstanding warrant, by trying to collide with the cruiser before driving onto Interstate 290.