Ex-Salem cop indicted for assault of pursuit suspect
BRENTWOOD — An ex-Salem police officer was indicted for allegedly assaulting a man following a high-speed pursuit along Interstate 93.
Joseph Freda, 33, of Salem, is facing two counts of simple assault by an on-duty law enforcement officer for allegedly striking Thomas Templeton in the head with a flashlight on Oct. 6, according to state prosecutors.
Freda allegedly later stepped on Templeton's hands while he was handcuffed and sitting on the ground.
A grand jury returned the indictments against Freda in Rockingham County Superior Court.
The indictments come just days after Templeton, 40, of York, Maine, pleaded guilty to reckless conduct and a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge.
Templeton is serving a 12-month jail sentence, and received a second 12-month sentence that will be deferred if he remains on good behavior. Templeton will likely be a key witness for state prosecutors if Freda goes forward with a trial.
Freda faces an enhanced misdemeanor that could mean potential state prison time because he carried out the assaults while he was an on-duty police officer, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say the assault happened moments after a state trooper and Windham police sergeant had arrested Templeton after a high-speed pursuit.
Templeton had sped away in a black Jeep Cherokee from a Windham police sergeant and set off on Interstate 93 around 1:50 a.m., according to court records.
Templeton drove along Veterans Memorial Parkway in Salem in the opposite lane, and later onto Main Street where he was apprehended in a wooded area near the Massachusetts state line by state and local police, according to court records.
Freda had taken Templeton into custody after the arrest and allegedly assaulted him, according to the state Attorney General's Office.
Freda was fired by the town on Jan. 21. He has pleaded not guilty and remains free on bail. He will be arraigned on the charges April 24 in superior court.