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Mass. trooper acquitted in Nashua assault case

Union Leader Correspondent

October 12. 2017 5:39PM
Then-New Hampshire Trooper Andrew Monaco and Massachusetts Trooper Joseph Flynn were accused of beating Richard Simone in Nashua following a lengthy car chase on May 11, 2016. 

NASHUA — A Massachusetts state trooper who has been on administrative leave for more than a year was acquitted Thursday of assault charges stemming from a Nashua arrest caught on video.

A jury found Joseph Flynn not guilty of two enhanced misdemeanor charges of simple assault by an on-duty police officer — offenses that could have placed him in prison for two to five years for each charge.

"I know Joe is very proud to be a (Massachusetts) trooper ... he will go on and go back to duties as a Mass. trooper," one of Flynn's attorneys, Ronald Caron, said following the verdict.

He declined to comment on a pending internal investigation by the Massachusetts State Police. Caron said Flynn, 32, of North Tewksbury, Mass., was originally on paid administrative leave, but his pay was discontinued once he was indicted on the charges.

Caron said he was grateful to the jury, which deliberated for about nine hours over two days.

"They saw he was not the kind of officer that the prosecutor portrayed him," echoed attorney Mark Attorri, another member of Flynn's defense team.

Thursday's verdict followed six days of a trial in which attorneys highlighted a lengthy police chase through two states on May 11, 2016. It ended with a stop in a Nashua neighborhood and the arrest of Richard Simone, a convicted felon with a dangerous criminal record.

News helicopters captured the arrest on video, which included two state troopers — one from New Hampshire and one from Massachusetts — punching Simone after his apparent surrender.

Stills taken from a video shot from Fox 25's news helicopter on May 11, 2016 show state troopers from New Hampshire and Massachusetts approaching Richard Simone as he gets out of his truck; the troopers winding up to punch him (center image); and other officers converging to take Simone into custody. Simone was cornered in Nashua after a long chase that started in Holden, Mass. Two state troopers — one from each state— have been charged in the beating. (FOX 25/FILE)

"Viewed in isolation that video looks damning to law enforcement generally, but apparently the jury disagrees when it applies the law," said Caron. He said the jury recognized that police officers go into harm's way and have to make quick decisions with laws that grant them certain latitude.

Caron insisted throughout the trial that Flynn's punches were controlled, selective punches used in an effort to control Simone's arms to place him under arrest. 

Prosecutors, however, said the eight punches thrown by Flynn were unprivileged physical contact, calling it a "beatdown" on a man who had surrendered.

"This jury watched the videos and listened to other officers testify," said the prosecutor, Senior Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Susan Morrell. She noted that a juror's review of the case is much different than a typical person's gut reaction to watching the video of the arrest just once.

Flynn was one of two troopers charged in connection with the arrest. Former New Hampshire state trooper Andrew Monaco pleaded guilty to simple assault and received a deferred jail term, was required to relinquish his badge and may never take another job in law enforcement.

According to Caron, the video of the arrest portrays Monaco beating on Simone compared to Flynn's "controlled approach" to the event.

"If this had gone south it would have been tough for a lot of people, mostly for Joe Flynn," said Caron. " ... Joe wants to go back to duty. He is in a very unique outfit."

Following the verdict, Flynn declined to comment to the New Hampshire Union Leader about his acquittal.

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