Salem police accused of going too far in arrest, tasering of hockey coachBy MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader
April 27. 2018 11:44PM
SALEM — The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office confirmed Friday it has reviewed the arrest and use of a stun gun on a Massachusetts man after a youth hockey game in Salem last December, but referred the matter to local police to investigate.
Town Manager Chris Dillon said Friday the town’s police department reviewed the episode, but he couldn’t make public the review’s conclusions.
Massachusetts attorney Christopher DiBella submitted the complaint to the Attorney General’s office on behalf of Bob Andersen, 45, of Wilmington, Mass., the man captured on video being taken down by police Dec. 2 at the ICenter skating complex.
Lisa Wolford, chief of the Attorney General Office’s Criminal Justice Bureau, said “we did review his complaint and his materials” and forwarded everything to Salem police.
Wolford explained that the bureau investigates complaints of criminal misconduct by public officials, but doesn’t investigate possible violations of individual police department policies.
Andersen is facing three charges, including assaulting a police officer, and could face up to five years in prison if convicted, according to DiBella.
Boston CBS affiliate WBZ aired a report Thursday that included witnesses saying Andersen didn’t do anything wrong.
“Bob was a good Samaritan and this is what he got for it,” one witness told WBZ.
DiBella said parents and referees had “some argument” during a game involving 13-year-old players and Andersen, an assistant coach, was not involved in the dispute.
After the game, he said, Andersen was trying to break up the argument between parents when police arrived.
“I didn’t know how it was gonna end,” Andersen told WBZ. “I could hear my son crying and screaming. I could hear my wife screaming.”
DiBella believes his client was trying to do the right thing and became a victim of circumstance.
“At the end of the day, my client was trying to diffuse an argument between parents,” he said.
Anderson didn’t see police enter the fray until they were grappling with him, according to DiBella.
“I want to say four officers were on him, but two different officers tased him,” he said.
“We’re only alleging our client didn’t do anything and there was no criminal wrongdoing on the part of our client,” DiBella said. “We have several witness statements that corroborate my client’s version of what happened.”
Andersen has been suspended from coaching since the incident.
Dillon said he has ordered an outside agency to audit the police department and its internal affairs investigation “to ensure we’re doing everything as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
“We’re not doing this audit because of the hockey incident,” he added.
Police Chief Paul T. Donovan didn’t respond to requests for comment.