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Manchester cop unchains bike, gives it to wrong guy

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 12. 2018 8:27AM
John Brawley stands outside City Hall in downtown Manchester. Brawley recently recently got word he can get his bicycle back after police had cut the lock and given it to another man. (MARK HAYWARD/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Eventually, Manchester police settled the case of a purportedly stolen bicycle, but in the meantime, John Brawley either had to bum rides or walk between his Pinardville home and his downtown job.

The inconvenience took place after Manchester police, in a case of sidewalk justice, cut the lock off Brawley’s $129 Walmart bicycle on Aug. 31 and handed it to a man who, with receipt in hand, claimed the bike was his and had been stolen.

Now police acknowledge that the bike did in fact belong to Brawley. They have retrieved it and it is sitting at the police station waiting for Brawley to come get it, said police spokesman Lt. Brian O’Keefe.

Brawley told the New Hampshire Union Leader he was sitting at City Hall Plaza on Aug. 31 changing his shoes while the downtown police officer, Anna Martin, was standing next to his bike and talking to another person. Martin was saying something about getting a tool to cut the chain.

When he went to unchain his bike, things got heated, and Martin told Brawley to scram or go to jail, according to Brawley.

“Immediately, right off the bat, she was very angry. She called me a thief, as if it was her personal bike,” said Brawley, who is 27.

Martin gave the bike to the other guy.

“The man who stated his bike was stolen had receipts in hand and even pointed out some identifying markers. Officer Martin, acting in good faith, returned the bike to the man who claimed it was his based on the receipts he presented to her,” O’Keefe said.

Brawley started leaving voicemails with police. He had the exact day he purchased the bike from Walmart (he had posted the purchase on Facebook). And he even remembered the aisle number, he said.

O’Keefe said Martin eventually determined that Brawley did in fact own such a bicycle.

Brawley said he had to find rides or walk from home to his new job at a downtown restaurant. He said he was happy to get word that the bike is his, but as of Tuesday, he had been unable to retrieve the bicycle because of inconvenient hours to pick it up from the evidence room, he said.

Martin, he said, contacted him personally to explain what happened. “She said she made a mistake,” Brawley said.

In the meantime, O’Keefe convinced Walmart to donate a bicycle to the man who claimed his bike had been stolen.

Crime Public Safety Manchester

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