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Trooper's assault trial begins in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

October 03. 2017 9:49PM
Prosecutors are asking that only the footage from the time a May 2016 police chase passes Main Street in Nashua -- up to the conclusion of Richard Simone's arrest -- be viewed during the upcoming trial of a Massachusetts state trooper. (REUTERS)

Joseph Flynn

NASHUA — No one is above the law, a prosecutor told the jury during opening statements Tuesday in the trial of Joseph Flynn, a Massachusetts state trooper accused of beating a man during a Nashua traffic stop.

Flynn’s defense team, however, said he did not violate the law, but used contact that was reasonable to detain a dangerous, wanted felon.

Jurors viewed video footage from a lengthy police chase and the traffic stop in which Richard Simone steps out of his truck, kneels down and places both hands on the ground as officers converge on him; several punches are thrown by two troopers.

“In our society, no one is above the law,” said attorney Alexander Scott, maintaining that Flynn used excessive force to arrest Simone, who led police on a high-speed chase through two states.

“The defendant lunged on Simone’s back and punched him four times,” said Scott, adding Flynn then hit Simone three more times.

Flynn was one of two troopers to assault Simone, according to Scott. In a plea deal, former New Hampshire state trooper Andrew Monaco pleaded guilty in August 2016 to three charges of misdemeanor simple assault and received a deferred jail term. He agreed never to seek a job in law enforcement.

Flynn’s defense attorney, Ronald Caron, said that Flynn, 32, of North Tewksbury, Mass., did not commit a crime.

“Joe hits him on the shoulder, for God’s sake,” said Caron, adding Flynn then withdrew. “... He is working to try to detain this man and he is doing it in a way that he can do it best.”

Caron argued that Flynn was neither out of control nor angry. He said police anticipated that Simone had a firearm and expected a deadly force scenario.

“They thought this was going to end really bad,” said Caron, contending that Flynn was attempting to find Simone’s hands, which were underneath Simone’s body.

The state called its first witness to the stand on Tuesday. New Hampshire state trooper Mark Suttmeier, who was also involved in the May 11, 2016, police chase, said he was prepared for three scenarios — a deadly force encounter, a suicide or resisting arrest and fleeing.

Jurors had the opportunity to view the Brigham Street neighborhood where Simone was arrested. The incident was caught on camera from a news helicopter and gained national attention.

Flynn is facing two enhanced misdemeanor charges of simple assault by an on-duty police officer. He is currently on paid leave from the Massachusetts State Police, and is facing a possible prison sentence of two to five years for each offense.

Simone, 50, of Worcester, Mass., was treated at St. Joseph Hospital after the arrest, and received three stitches in his ear, suffered pain in his ribs and back, and had a lump on the lower portion of his head and pressure in his sinus area, according to authorities.

The trial at Hillsborough County Superior Court is expected to take about two weeks; it resumes today.

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