State releases partial list of N.H. police officers with possible credibility concerns
A list containing the names of New Hampshire police officers that have committed acts calling their credibility into question is finally public, providing the first glimpse of a document subject to lawsuits and calls for release by civil liberties advocates and media outlets for years.
On Wednesday, the New Hampshire Department of Justice released the first portion of the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule, better known as the Laurie List, revealing the names of 90 current and former police officers, along with a brief, sometimes one-word explanation, for the conduct that landed them on the document.
Later in the day, the Attorney General’s Office published a revised list with 80 names. They said they removed ten officers after being made aware of ongoing appeals they weren't previously notified about.
“Falsifying records,” reads the entry for Anthony Bonnier, who was listed as an officer in Laconia at the time he was added to the list in April 2019. Keene officer Jillian Decker was added to the list in 2021 for “truthfulness.”
In total, seven officers were added to the Laurie List for having used excessive force. Twelve of the names on the list were cited for “criminal conduct,” while six were added for falsifying evidence or records. More than 60 officers were placed on the Laurie List for “truthfulness,” with the state providing no additional information about their actions.
Officers from police departments across the state are included, including four each from the Hudson Police and Lebanon Police, and three from the Manchester Police. Five officers from the New Hampshire State Police are listed, as are several from county sheriffs’ departments.
The officers may no longer be employed at the departments listed on the Laurie List, or they may be deceased.
The release of the document was hailed by the ACLU of New Hampshire, which represented a group of media companies including the Center for Public Interest Journalism in a 2018 lawsuit filed against the state over the list’s release.
“When it comes to ensuring police in New Hampshire live up the high expectations we have for them, the answer is more transparency, not less,” Henry Klementowicz, an attorney with the ACLU, said. “In addition to making sure that criminal defendants get the evidence the constitution entitles them to for a fair trial, this partial release is a step in the right direction to making sure that the government is accountable to Granite Staters.”
Conduct in the public eye
Some of the officers included in the EES had previously garnered news coverage for criminal conduct, including former Concord officer Bryan Croft. Croft pleaded guilty to domestic violence and stalking charges earlier this year after a violent episode with his wife. His name was added to the Laurie List in June, with “criminal conduct” the only explanation on the document.
Ronald “R.J.” Letendre, a former Dover Police officer, was fired after an investigation following a domestic violence incident that received widespread attention. He was later accused by his former department of taking evidence in the form of marijuana edibles, and of using a Taser on his wife. Letendre was added to the Laurie List in August 2020 for “truthfulness/excessive force/criminal conduct.”
Former Manchester Police Sergeant Eric Knight was added to the Laurie List in 2018 after he allegedly initiated an investigation into a former tenant of a building he owned, and was given access to files by other officers. The city eventually paid a $36,000 settlement to the former tenant. Knight, who retired, is listed on the EES under the category “truthfulness/criminal conduct.”
Several officers were added to the EES twice, including Marc Anderson of the Nashua Police. Anderson was cited for falsifying records in 2018, and then added for “truthfulness” less than a year later.
At least one current police chief, David Ellis of Troy’s police department, is included on the Laurie List. Ellis was added for “truthfulness” in June 2018.
While the officers listed on the first portion of the EES released Wednesday were all included after May 2018, the document lists the “date of incident” as years, sometimes decades earlier.
Michael Folini was added to the EES in 2018 for an issue with “truthfulness” while he was serving with the Peterborough Police in 1997.
It isn’t clear whether these issues were known prior to May 2018. The Department of Justice didn’t immediately respond to a request for clarification.
Long shielded, list becomes public
Under U.S. Supreme Court precedent established in the 1963 case Brady v. Maryland, prosecutors are required to turn over evidence that is favorable to a defendant.
In 1989, Carl Laurie was charged with murder in New Hampshire. His conviction was later overturned by the state Supreme Court after determining a detective involved in Laurie’s confession had a litany of poor behavior on this record that wasn’t disclosed to defense attorneys, including allegations of verbal abuse and in some cases, choking people who questioned his demeanor.
In the wake of that decision, county attorneys in New Hampshire began keeping lists of police officers with potential credibility issues, which became known as the Laurie List. When an officer whose name is on the list is involved in a criminal case, prosecutors are instructed to disclose that information to defendants.
More recently, the list, renamed the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule, or EES, was managed by the Attorney General’s office. Police officers are normally added to the list by their police chiefs and have the right to appeal that decision in the judicial system.
In 2020, the state Supreme Court ruled in the case led by the ACLU that the EES was not categorically exempt from disclosure under the state’s transparency laws, but that a lower court needed to determine if the privacy rights of the officers on the list outweighed the public’s interest.
This year, the state legislature passed a bill to release the EES, with the support of police unions, but only after officers were given another opportunity to appeal.
On Wednesday, the names of 80 police officers who were added to the list after May 2018 and who do not have ongoing appeals or whose appeals were denied were released publicly. In March 2022, the names of the remaining officers will be released. The EES is believed to contain more than 250 total names.
The DOJ has previously released redacted portions of the list, concealing the names of the officers as well as the dates of the incident that led to their inclusion. A column labeled ‘category’ includes a brief description of the officer’s conduct, including “truthfulness” and “excessive force.”
[Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Check back for updates]