Friday, January 29, 2010

Police Brutality--When Is Enough, Enough?

The charming looking gent to the left is Springfield police officer Jeffrey M. Asher, an assaultive cop with a lengthy track record of being involved in incidents of alleged police brutality.  Here's the story on the complaints surrounding Asher:

"Even before the videotape surfaced of a Nov. 27 arrest which shows him striking a drug suspect with a flashlight, the record of police misconduct allegations involving patrolman Jeffrey M. Asher was coming under increased scrutiny.  Details of the Police Department’s handling of seven civilian complaints brought against Asher over the past 12 years will play a role in the defense of New York man accused of assaulting Asher during his arrest at a downtown club in October 2008. The Police Department internal investigations records about Asher were turned over in November by the city to a lawyer for Raymond Bessette, 34, of North Granville, N.Y.  Bessette is due to face trial on Jan. 22 in District Court where he has pleaded innocent to charges of assault and battery on a police officer and trespassing. He may claim self-defense, his lawyer Frank Flannery advised the court in filings.

Flannery was successful in seeking access to the Police Department internal investigations records for Asher, including those involving incidents in which the 16-year veteran was charged with using excessive force and inappropriate conduct.   Jeffrey M. Asher Asher is now among four officers under both internal and criminal investigations in connection with the Nov. 27 arrest of Melvin Jones III during a traffic stop on Rifle Street. Asher was identified in a police report of that incident as having struck Jones repeatedly during a scuffle which ensued when the suspect tried to flee the scene and then grabbed another officer’s gun.

According to a police report of the Oct. 19, 2008, incident, police were called to the Salty Dog club at 280 Bridge St. Asher and another officer were taking Bessette, who they said was drunk and disruptive, out of the club shortly after midnight when Bessette struck Asher open-handed in the chest, according to the report. The report states that as the police officers were escorting Bessette from the bar he lost his footing and fell in the parking lot outside, getting a minor scrape.

In preparation for trial, Flannery filed a motion asking that the city be ordered to provide all internal investigation records about Asher for seven different incidents, including the 1997 case in which Asher and the department drew national attention. In that case, Asher was also caught on videotape, kicking a suspect in the head while he was restrained by other officers.   District Court Judge Jacques C. Leroy ordered the city to provide the records. Only the defense can look at the records, and they are sealed from public review, according to the judge’s order. Flannery confirmed that he has seen the records but declined to comment further.

The defense filing states that Bessette says he never struck Asher. Bessette claims Asher struck him in the shoulder with his fist, shoved him down a hallway and then threw him through swinging doors, according to the court document. In the most recent incident involving Asher, the suspect, the 28-year-old Jones, according to his father, reportedly suffered fractures to the bones in his face and remains partially blind in one eye.

Among the incidents for which Flannery sought records are:

• The 1997 suspension of Asher without pay by the Police Commission for kicking Roy Parker, a drug suspect, who was restrained and being handcuffed by two officers. Asher was cleared of criminal wrongdoing, and an original year-long suspension was later overturned and reduced to six months.

• A 2004 incident in which Asher was among a group of officers who were the subjects of a brutality complaint by a black school principal injured by police while he was in the throes of a diabetic seizure in his car at a South End gas station. After a month-long review, the Police Commission voted 3-2 to exonerate the officers. The city paid a $180,000 settlement.

• A 1994 incident which did not come to light until after the Parker case in which the city paid $75,000 in 2000 to settle a brutality complaint against Asher and another officer, Daniel Brunton. Michael J. Cuzzone, of Springfield, claimed he was beaten unconscious by Asher on May 26, 1994, after Cuzzone’s friend had a dispute with Asher’s father, Michael Asher, a bartender at Donnie’s Cafe on Chestnut Street. The city made no admission of wrongdoing in paying the settlement, and neither Asher nor Brunton was disciplined by the Police Department.

• A 12-day suspension of Asher without pay for violation of departmental rules and regulations for an incident that occurred on Clyde Street on Jan. 29, 2001. A complaint was filed by a 12-year-old boy, Luis D. Soto, and his mother, Rosa M. Sepulveda, both of Springfield. They said the side mirror of Asher’s cruiser hit the boy’s right arm while the boy was walking with friends. The child required treatment at Baystate Medical Center.

• Asher’s reprimand in 2005 by then acting Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet for 'failing to show respectful treatment'  in connection with a resident’s complaint of mistreatment in April related to Asher’s response to a dog attack. Jerry A. Belair, of Nassau Drive, said his encounter with Asher occurred when he was attempting to take his injured dog to an animal hospital after the pet was attacked by a pit bull outside his home. Belair said that despite repeated pleas to take his bleeding dog to the hospital, Asher detained him for more than 90 minutes, stated he was under arrest, handcuffed him and placed him a cruiser, all without cause. Asher denied wrongdoing, but Fitchet issued the reprimand and it was about this time that Asher was transferred to inside duty in the department’s Records Division.

• A 1995 case which resulted in a civil lawsuit filed by a former Springfield man, Brent Whitley. The Whitley case was dismissed in 1999 after Whitley appeared to lose interest in the matter and failed to contact his lawyer or appear in U.S. District Court. Whitley had claimed he was doused with a chemical spray, clubbed, arrested and pushed down stairs by Asher and another officer during his arrest on charges for which he was later acquitted.

• A 2004 incident in which, Holly M. Marion, 24, filed a complaint with the Police Department, saying Asher punched her in the face and broke her left leg on Oct. 7 as emergency workers responded to a call about a drug overdose at 75 Avon Place. Marion admitted, according to police reports of the incident, that she threatened to “stab” Asher with a hypodermic needle if he “didn’t let go” but later told him she did not have a weapon.
Who would employ a cop like this?  Are the authorities in Srpingfield, Mass out of their minds?  This guy would be in jail if he weren't a cop.  He is nothing but a violent thug.  Chilling

1 comment:

  1. Interesting blog post! I recently wrote an article about a case of alleged police brutality in Winnipeg, on my blog: