Saying it wasn't the Manchester Police Department's finest hour, Attorney General Michael Delaney on Friday cleared four off-duty officers accused of beating Christopher Micklovich on March 3, 2010, at the Strange Brew Tavern.
“My conclusion is that the Manchester police officers' conduct was justified under the laws of self-defense, defense of others and use of physical force by law enforcement,” Delaney said.
Delaney called it a case in which a patron, Micklovich, needed to be forcibly removed from the bar to an alleyway.
“He was asked to leave and did not and then took an aggressive step toward the bar owner. In response, off-duty officers intervened, a struggle ensued and the patron was taken hard to the ground head first and was then struck by the police on the ground in order to restrain him,” Delaney said.
“Under the totality of the circumstances, I find the four officers' conduct was justified under the law,” Delaney said.
He said that “alternative applications of force could have been used under the circumstances, but the legal question under review is whether the officers' conduct was justified. Under all of the circumstances presented, my finding was that it was justified.”
On June 9, 2010, City Solicitor Tom Clark concurred with Manchester police that there was no criminal wrongdoing in the Strange Brew incident by the four involved police officers, Jonathan Duchesne, Matthew Jajuga and Michael Buckley, and Lt. Ernie Goodno, who has since retired.
Duchesne, Jajuga and Buckley were suspended without pay for an unspecified period of time for violating standard operating procedures.
Delaney said his probe also concluded there was no attempt at a cover-up by the city solicitor by dropping criminal charges against Micklovich before trial. Micklovich had been charged with criminal mischief, simple assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in connection with the incident.
“I also want to say that clearly this situation was not the Manchester police department's finest hour,” Delaney said.
He noted that an internal affairs review was conducted by Manchester police.
“I recognize the police chief has disciplined officers,” he said. “I was asked to review this matter by the mayor, former County Attorney Bob Walsh and Chief David Mara.”
Chief Mara said: “I want to thank the Attorney General for reviewing the incident. We had done a comprehensive internal investigation into the incident. That investigation had found the officers were justified in using force. I felt mistakes had been made and we addressed those mistakes through the department's disciplinary process.”
To see the report, click here.
For more details and reaction to this story, pick up a copy of Saturday's Greater Manchester edition of the New Hampshire Union Leader.