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Ex-Salem police officer may settle assault case instead of going on trial

Union Leader Correspondent

August 21. 2014 8:28PM

BRENTWOOD – An ex-Salem police officer charged with assaulting a suspect after a high-speed pursuit may strike a plea deal after a judge cancelled his upcoming trial so he can enter settlement talks. The decision by state prosecutors to enter into a possible mediated settlement with Joseph Freda, 33, comes days after the former Salem police officer claimed that he suffered from post-traumatic stress from his military service in Iraq. Freda is facing two felony counts of simple assault by an on-duty law enforcement officer for striking a man last Oct. 6 in the head with a flashlight and stepping on his handcuffed hands, according to prosecutors. State prosecutors recently asked a judge to depose Freda’s counselor from the Veteran Center in Hooksett in case the matter goes to trial. Defense lawyer Donald Blaszka said in court papers that attorneys from both sides are still collecting and reviewing evidence in the case, including medical and counseling records. Freda is accused of striking Thomas Templeton of York, Maine. Templeton received five staples in his head to close his wounds, according to prosecutors. The alleged assault happened moments after a state trooper and Windham police sergeant had arrested Templeton following a high-speed pursuit. 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 was expected to begin on Sept. 8. If the two sides do not expect a settlement in the case, then the matter will be rescheduled for trial. Freda was fired by the town in January.

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