Chasrick Heredia

CHASRICK HEREDIA

Charged in fight, filed lawsuit

CONCORD — A U.S. District Court judge has allowed a lawsuit to proceed that includes allegations that four Manchester police officers fabricated evidence after responding to a brawl outside a city nightclub in May 2018.

The ruling opens the possibility that the case, heard by a criminal court two years ago, could become the eventual subject of a jury trial, this time in federal court.

Chasrick Heredia, the Manchester resident who escaped the most serious criminal charges stemming from a brawl outside the now-closed GlowBar, filed the lawsuit against the four officers individually.

The four are Michael Roscoe, Canada Stewart, Nathan Harrington and Matthew Nocella.

Manchester police and City Solicitor Emily Rice would not comment on the recent ruling. Nor would they answer a question about whether the city is paying for the police officers’ lawyer or willing to cover any monetary damages that may result from the case.

But the lawyer for the four hinted that she is working on behalf of the city: “The City of Manchester does not comment on pending litigation,” wrote the lawyer for the four, Samantha Dowd Elliott of the Concord law firm Gallagher Callahan & Gartrell, in an email.

Heredia faced a slew of charges stemming from the brawl. The most serious was an attempted murder charge where prosecutors claimed he jackhammer-punched Stewart’s head against pavement. But the case eventually imploded.

A jury cleared Heredia of the most serious charges and convicted him of others. But a judge threw out all the convictions after information surfaced that two officers who testified in the trial, Roscoe and Stewart, were dating at the time of the incident. Unknown at the time of the trial, that information would have benefited Heredia’s defense, the trial judge ruled.

Heredia eventually pleaded guilty to felony riot and felony resisting arrest and was freed from jail, with his sentence amounting to the 325 days he spent in jail awaiting trial.

In March 2021, Heredia sued the four officers in federal court, claiming they “provided false information” in their affidavits and police reports, specifically that he punched Stewart.

The four police officers had argued that in pleading guilty to felony resisting arrest, Heredia admitted punching Stewart, and court precedent and legal principles prevented him from suing.

But Judge Paul Barbadoro ruled that Heredia specifically denied punching Stewart when he pleaded guilty.

“Whether defendants falsely accused Heredia of punching Officer Stewart was not actually litigated and determined in the underlying criminal case. Contrary to defendants’ argument, Heredia did not previously admit to the punching,” Barbadoro wrote.

This was the first contested ruling in what could be a lengthy case. Heredia has agreed to drop malicious prosecution claims. Claims of excessive force and failure to render medical aid remain part of the case.

Heredia’s lawyer, Stephen Martin, did not return a telephone call. Kyle Daly, president of the union that represents Manchester patrol officers, said the union will not be commenting on the case.

Heredia has served about half of an 8 1/2 year sentence after being found guilty of witness tampering, falsifying evidence and misdemeanors in an unrelated case from 2019. That case involved sexual encounters with three teenaged girls who walked away from the Granite Pathways youth treatment center in 2019.