MANCHESTER — A Hillsborough County jury has cleared a city man of trying to murder a police officer outside a downtown bar last May, but convicted him of two lesser felonies that could send him to state prison for years.
The all-female jury had the case for about 24 hours before finding Chasrick Soren Heredia, 24, innocent of attempted murder and two felony assault charges against officer Canada Stewart. The jury convicted him of felony riot and felony resisting arrest.
The felony conviction of resisting arrest applies when the resistance causes serious bodily injury to another.
A little more than a dozen Manchester police officers, including Stewart, were on hand for the verdict. They left the courtroom stone-faced, and Stewart’s top supervisor, patrol Capt. Allen Aldenberg, would not comment, saying he did not know enough about the trial.
The case stemmed from a melee that took place outside the now-closed GlowBar on the night of May 10, 2018. During testimony, officers described how a dispute between a few customers and a bouncer had intensified. Police were eventually drawn into it when rowdy patrons spilled into the street.
During the fight, Stewart was left alone trying to handcuff Heredia, who pulled her hair bun. Prosecutors claimed he then delivered “jackhammer punches” while above her and with her head pinned to the pavement.
“He just was beating my head in,” she testified.
However, a bystander’s cellphone video central to the trial did not capture the assault, and one fellow police officer testified to seeing uppercut punches.
The video also showed Stewart struggling with Heredia after the alleged blows and helping fellow officers with the crowd. But the assault had left her with a concussion resulting in 10 days of missed work and ongoing mental trauma.
The two prosecutors on the case — assistant county attorneys Donald Topham and Patrick Ives — referred questions to newly installed County Attorney Michael Conlon.
“I want to thank our law enforcement officers, detectives, investigators, prosecutors and supporting staff in our various agencies for their effort to bring justice for the victims in this case,” Conlon said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
During closing arguments, public defender Julian Jefferson referred to the video and noted that Heredia had shouted to his friends to record the arrest just seconds before grappling with Stewart. That would make no sense if he was intending to murder her, the lawyer argued.
On Friday, Jefferson said the jury had clearly scrutinized the evidence, noting the time they spent on deliberations and the divided verdict.
“I’m thankful for their efforts,” Jefferson said.
Heredia’s family and friends attended the trial all week but were not on hand for the verdict.
Both riot and felony resisting arrest are Class B felonies that carry a penalty of 3½ to 7 years in state prison. Judges, however, have the latitude to suspend all or part of the sentence. Judges can also order the defendants to serve sentences for convictions on multiple charges back-to-back or concurrently.
Heredia also was convicted of two misdemeanor resisting arrest charges and one misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. Misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of up to a year in jail.
Heredia has been held at Valley Street jail since his arrest on May 11. Judge Amy Messer revoked his $75,000 bail.
Heredia is scheduled to be sentenced March 20.