BRENTWOOD — An ex-Salem police officer accused of assaulting a suspect after a high-speed pursuit along Interstate 93 plans to claim at his trial that he suffered from post-traumatic stress from his military service in Iraq.
State prosecutors are preparing to put Joseph Freda, 33, of Salem on trial for simple assault by an on-duty law enforcement officer.
Freda allegedly struck Thomas Templeton on Oct. 6 in the head with a flashlight and stepped on his hands while handcuffed, according to state prosecutors.
Freda was fired by the town on Jan. 21. He has pleaded not guilty and remains free on bail.
Prosecutors revealed that the defense’s claims in a court filing, seeking a judge’s permission to depose a mental health counselor who diagnosed Freda.
“His combat trauma experiences have significantly impaired his ability to function in a personal, social and vocational domains,” according a report defense lawyer Don Blaszka provided to the state.
Templeton received five staples in his head to close his wounds from being struck in the head with a flashlight, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors have subpoenaed Templeton to testify at Freda’s trial. Templeton was sentenced to 12 months in jail after he pleaded guilty to reckless conduct and a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge. He has since been released from county jail. 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. The trial will begin Sept. 8 in Rockingham County Superior Court.
Prosecutors say the assault happened moments after a state trooper and Windham police sergeant had arrested Templeton following a high-speed pursuit. Templeton had sped away in a black Jeep Cherokee and set off a pursuit on Interstate 93 around 1:50 a.m.
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 following the arrest and allegedly assaulted him, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.