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Mass. man cleared of charges he dragged Salem police officer

Union Leader Correspondent

December 10. 2012 8:58PM

William Manning was found not guilty of reckless conduct following his trial in Rockingham County Superior Court. (COURTESY)

BRENTWOOD - A Concord, Mass., man was cleared of charges that he dragged a Salem police officer directing traffic from an intersection near Canobie Lake Park in August 2010.

Judge Kenneth McHugh found William Manning, 56, not guilty of felony reckless conduct after a bench trial on Nov. 19 in Rockingham County Superior Court.

A court filing made public on Thursday says that Manning is now petitioning the court to annul his 2010 arrest. Police said Manning lost his temper with Officer Dave Hyatt and drove off with the officer in tow after being asked for his license and registration.

The defense adamantly denied that Hyatt was dragged by the vehicle and suggested early on in the case that there were conflicting accounts of Manning's interaction with Hyatt, according to court records.

Manning asked for a judge -instead of a jury - to decide the verdict in his case just before the trial.

Hyatt was directing traffic at the intersection of North Policy Street and Interstate 93 on Aug. 14, 2010, during the peak arrival time at Canobie Lake Park when he had his interaction with Manning.

Prosecutors argued that Manning drove past Hyatt when signaled to do so, but then turned around his Honda Odyssey, pulling up to the officer to yell at him. Police said that Manning and his passenger then began an expletive-filled tirade about Hyatt's ability to direct traffic.

Manning, his wife and three small children were in the vehicle at the time of the incident, police said. Hyatt asked Manning for his driver's license, and reached across the passenger's side to get it before he said he was dragged off by the minivan, according to prosecutors.

McHugh allowed defense lawyer Phil Utter to gain access to Hyatt's past worker's compensation claims made during his law enforcement career. Prosecutors argued that the records meant little.

Hyatt last filed for a worker's compensation claim in 1995, according to prosecutors. Hyatt was taken to Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Mass. by Salem Fire and Rescue to be treated for a shoulder injury, scrapes and bruises, police said.

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