Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Join as a sustainer and help unlock $10k. Just 84 sustainers to go!

Berlin Police Face Civil Suit Over Handling of Video Incident


A hospitalized man who was video recorded without his consent by a former Berlin police officer is seeking monetary damages, claiming the police department failed to protect him and investigate the incident.

Get NHPR's reporting about politics, the pandemic, and other top stories in your inbox — sign up for our newsletter today.

The suit stems from a January 2019 encounter between on-duty officer Phillip Pelletier and a man in psychiatric distress who Pelletier was monitoring inside Androscoggin Valley Hospital.

Pelletier took several images of the man, who was naked, as well as a video, which he shared via Snapchat with other members of the police force, and at least one civilian.

Pelletier pled guilty to privacy-related criminal charges and was given a suspended sentence. He was fired from the department and stripped of his law enforcement credentials in the state.

On Tuesday, the victim in the case, who is under the protection of the state’s Office of Public Guardian, filed a civil suit against the Berlin Police, claiming they violated his civil rights and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The suit alleges the police failed to properly investigate the incident, and that the department failed to supervise its officers.

“Despite multiple Berlin PD officers being aware of defendant Pelletier’s abusive misconduct, and despite a clear duty to report any fellow officer’s misconduct to a superior officer under the Berlin Police Department Policy, only one officer actually reported defendant Pelletier’s misconduct,” Anthony Carr, the attorney representing the victim, wrote in the lawsuit.

“Further, there is no indication that any of the officers who received the messages containing the photos and videos...and failed to report defendant Pelletier’s misconduct were disciplined for their violations of Berlin Police Department Policy,” Carr wrote.

The Berlin police haven’t responded to the legal filing.

The lawsuit states that following the incident, the victim in the case became fearful of the mental health system he previously relied on for treatment and is now currently an inpatient at New Hampshire Hospital.

“What was done to [the victim] has caused irreparable harm to him and robbed him of his ability to live independently,” the lawsuit states.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.