CONWAY — A member of the Conway Police Commission will be arraigned next month in connection with an Aug. 6 road-rage incident in North Conway Village during which he allegedly assaulted a motorist.
Lawrence Martin, 61, of Center Conway was charged by New Hampshire State Police with two counts of simple assault and one of disorderly conduct following the incident on Main Street. Martin is free on $1,500 personal recognizance bail pending an Oct. 7 probable-cause hearing in Conway District Court. Martin did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Because Martin is a police commissioner, Conway police asked that State Police conduct the investigation, which is being led by Trooper Clinton Trussell. On Aug. 21, Trussell filed an affidavit to issue an arrest warrant for Martin. His request was granted by Justice Pamela Albee, who set the terms of Martin’s bail.
According to the arrest warrant, Martin was driving a pickup owned by the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative and was traveling south in the area of Reporter Court when he said he stopped to let a motorist in ahead of him. According to the warrant, a black SUV several vehicles behind Martin came alongside with the intent of taking a left onto Mechanic Street.
Questioned at the scene, Martin told Trussell that as he resumed moving, he had to go around a parked delivery vehicle; that involved going in front of the SUV. The operator of the SUV, Martin told Trussell, “honked his horn at him and he believed the driver gave him the finger.” Martin said he then stopped his vehicle, exited and “went to the driver of the SUV,” Trussell wrote.
The driver of the SUV, who was identified in the warrant as Nathan Buttrick, 34, told Trussell that he gave a hands-up gesture of frustration and said that Martin reached into the driver’s side window and “started violently punching him.” The passenger in the SUV, Eric Wade, 44, said he exited the vehicle and that when Martin swung at him, he swung back in self-defense. Trussell did not give addresses for either Buttrick or Wade.
Martin told Trussell that he “only punched in self-defense,” later adding that “he wished it didn’t happen and that he should have let the bird thing go.”
A female passer-by told Trussell that Martin was the “aggressor of the incident she had witnessed.”
Two-off duty officers also saw the fracas. State Trooper Seth Turner was walking across Mechanic Street; probation and parole officer John Loven was driving behind the SUV. The two officers told Trussell they broke up the fight.
The Conway Police Commission met on Sept. 2. Police Commissioner Chairman Rodney King was not available for comment on Wednesday.
Conway Town Manager Earl Sires said the Board of Selectmen has no jurisdiction over the Police Commission, whose three members are elected to office.