N.H. State Trooper Relieved of Duty After Video Shows Officers Punching Driver
Both a New Hampshire state trooper and a Massachusetts state trooper have been relieved of their duties after allegedly punching a driver following a multi-state car chase Wednesday. The story has gotten national attention after media outlets released a video of the incident.
State Police Director, Colonol Robert Quinn did not name the New Hampshire trooper who has been relieved of duty without pay. He told reporters, “the Division of State Police does not condone the unjustified use of force and it will not be tolerated.”
The Massachusetts State Police has also relieved one trooper from duty pending the outcome of an internal hearing on Friday.
Quinn called Wednesday’s events “disturbing,” and says the New Hampshire State Police will conduct an internal investigation. Quinn says they will also cooperate with the state Attorney General’s criminal investigation into what appears to be police repeatedly punching a man already on his hands and knees.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Strelzin says “our office is going to be conducting a criminal investigation to determine what force was used, by whom, and whether it was appropriate under the law.”
Both Governors condemned any excessive use of force. Governor Hassan added that officials “must treat this incident with the utmost seriousness without disparaging all of the hard-working police officers who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.”
The chase began around 4 Wednesday afternoon in Northern Massachusetts. Police there sought to apprehend a 50 year old white male named Richard Simone of Worcester, who was wanted on multiple warrants including assault, larceny, and battery with a dangerous weapon.
When the chase crossed into New Hampshire, state and local police joined the pursuit in Hudson. The chase ended on a dead-end street in Nashua.
Helicopter news footage shows Simone stepping out of his truck, kneeling, and putting his hands on the ground.
Then, a group of officers surround him, and at least two punch him multiple times.
In court Thursday morning in Nashua, Simone opted to waive his extradition hearing in New Hampshire. His attorney Tony Sculimbrene told a crowd of reporters in front of the courthouse “Mr. Simone looks forward to going back to Massachusetts, and handling these charges there.”
Sculimbrene said defendants often choose to waive extradition hearings. After that, the process moves quickly.
More protracted, perhaps, will be the investigations into whether Simone is not just a defendant and fugitive from justice, but also a victim of police brutality.