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Mass. state trooper accused of beating man is back in court

Union Leader Correspondent

September 19. 2017 9:31PM
Joseph Flynn leaves a court hearing on Tuesday at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua. He is accused of assaulting a man during a Nashua traffic stop. (Kimberly Houghton/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA — Joseph Flynn, the Massachusetts state trooper accused of beating a man during a Nashua traffic stop, was back in court on Tuesday in preparation for his trial next month.

Although prosecutors are seeking to have portions of a police chase caught on video excluded from the trial against Trooper Joseph Flynn, his defense team is claiming that the hour-long chase that spanned from Massachusetts into New Hampshire is critical in understanding Flynn’s actions.

“The pursuit makes it more probable that (Richard) Simone is not going to surrender at the time of the arrest,” Attorney Ronald Caron argued during a hearing Tuesday at Hillsborough County Superior Court.

Caron said the high-speed chase that included several accidents, property damage and at least two attempts at “pursuit intervention techniques” (pit) maneuvers, helps show a jury that police feared a gunfight, violence or fleeing from Simone after his truck came to a stop in a Nashua neighborhood on May 11, 2016.

The issue at trial, according to Caron, is whether the force exercised by Flynn was privileged because of this reasonable belief that Simone may have had a weapon.

Flynn, 32, of North Tewksbury, Mass., is facing two enhanced misdemeanor charges of simple assault by an on-duty police officer. Flynn, currently on paid leave from the Massachusetts State Police, is facing a possible prison sentence of two to five years for each offense.

Flynn is accused of punching Simone in the head and the back after Simone was allegedly on his hands and knees surrendering — an arrest that was caught on camera by several news outlets.

Prosecutor Alexander Scott reemphasized on Tuesday that Simone was surrendering at the time of the alleged assaults by Flynn.

“There is a pause, and that pause is significant,” said Scott, stressing that the upcoming trial should not be focused on the victim’s conduct, but rather Flynn’s conduct.

The jury will be able to determine whether the victim surrendered based on the testimony from witnesses and video evidence, said Scott, adding some of the video footage from the chase leading up to the arrest is irrelevant.

Caron argues in court records that Flynn was justified in his actions in order to arrest Simone, prevent him from fleeing and to defend himself and other police “from what he reasonably believed to be a threat of imminent use of non-deadly force by (Simone).”

Scott is asking that only the video footage from the time the chase passes Main Street in Nashua — up to the conclusion of Simone’s arrest — be viewed during trial.

“The state’s motion seeks to reduce the video to what is necessary to make that objective determination,” Scott told Judge Charles Temple. “ … There needs to be a balance.”

Still, Caron contends that Flynn was involved in the lengthy chase, adding jurors should be able to witness the high speeds and damage that Flynn encountered firsthand.

“All of those factors come into play on the question of what Flynn is charged to do on a reasonably objective basis when he gets to the scene,” said Caron.

Jury selection for Flynn’s trial is scheduled for Oct. 2. Temple is taking the matter under advisement and will soon make a ruling on whether select portions of the video footage, including footage from a civilian dash cam and another trooper’s dash cam, should be seen at trial.

A former state trooper from New Hampshire, Andrew Monaco, also was involved in the alleged beating and previously pleaded guilty and received a suspended jail term and agreed to never seek a job in law enforcement under a negotiated plea deal. Simone was treated at St. Joseph Hospital following the arrest, and received three stitches in his ear, suffered pain in his ribs and back, obtained a lump on the lower portion of his head and pressure in his sinus area, according to authorities.

Simone, 50, of Worcester, Mass., is facing his own charges in Massachusetts in connection with the police chase.

Courts Crime Public Safety Nashua

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