SEABROOK, N.H. (MyFoxBoston.com) – The FBI and U.S. attorney are now involved in the investigation of a video that apparently shows officers in Seabrook, N.H. slamming a suspect into a wall.
Word of their involvement comes just one day after FOX 25 learned the New Hampshire Attorney General is conducting an investigation.
The Seabrook Board of Selectmen held an emergency meeting about the video Wednesday and handed the investigation over to Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young's office.
"It's in the attorney general's hands now. We will continue to support their efforts and await the outcome of their investigation," said Seabrook Police Chief Lee Bitomske.
The veteran officers were identified as Patrolman Mark Richardson, Patrolman Adam Laurent and Patrolman Keith Dietenhofer. Police officials said they have between five and 15 years with the department. They were placed on paid administrative leave after the video surfaced Tuesday.
The 2009 video was posted by the victim, Michael Bergeron, on YouTube. Bergeron got the video as part of discovery evidence in an OUI case. He was 19 at the time of the arrest and pleaded guilty to the charges in 2010. Bergeron said on YouTube that he has a permanent lump on the back of his neck and brain injuries.
In a police report, an officer wrote, "While in the booking room Bergeron was an emotional roller coaster, one minute he was angry with all officer (sic) stating derogatory commits (sic) to all of us, then the next minute he was happy."
The officer explains the incident by saying Bergeron had been refusing to walk back to his cell when an officer appeared to perform an arm bar takedown on Bergeron.
The officer explains the pepper spray, writing, "Due to Bergeron's prior spitting and failure to comply to anyone's order, I pepper sprayed him as he looked back at us in the hallway," the report says.
Bergeron's attorney Scott Gleason says that the way the officers described what happened in the police report is not what you see in the surveillance video.
He said he sees as a dichotomy between what police wrote in their report and what you see on the video. For example, in the report police write that after Bergeron fell to the floor he continued to act out and ignore police. However, Gleason says that is not clear when watching the video, which is causing him to question whether his client needed to be peppered sprayed.
"Obviously it's a major setback for us. It's a dark cloud. But I can assure the people of Seabrook that we have professional officers," Bitomske said.
Bergeron is scheduled to go to trial in a separate case next week. He is facing a misdemeanor charge of simple assault after he allegedly threw keys at a woman's face and cut her forehead. He was arrested in July and will appear in court Wednesday, Jan. 15.
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