NASHUA, N.H. (CBS/AP) — A Massachusetts State Police trooper and New Hampshire State Police trooper have been relieved from duty after the violent arrest and beating of a driver who led police on a two-state chase.
Police say Richard Simone, 50, of Worcester, led them on a one-hour pursuit that was captured on video Wednesday as it went from Holden, Massachusetts all the way to a dead end street in Nashua, New Hampshire. When Simone got out of the pickup truck, he appeared to kneel and put his hands on the ground when at least two officers began punching him.
Thursday afternoon, Massachusetts and New Hampshire State Police officials both announced their troopers had been relieved from duty. The troopers have not yet been identified.
“The Massachusetts State Police expect and demand all department members to act at all times with integrity, honor, and adherence to the law,” the Massachusetts State Police said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “If it is determined that a department member has not lived up to those expectations, we will take appropriate action.”
Mass. State Police said their trooper was relieved pending an internal hearing scheduled for Friday.
New Hampshire State Police Director Col. Robert L Quinn said during a press conference Thursday that the trooper was relieved “immediately” after the events of the arrest. He said New Hampshire State Police would conduct their own investigation, and would cooperate fully with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s criminal investigation.
The New Hampshire trooper is on leave without pay.
“The events of Wednesday evening are disturbing,” said Quinn. “However, we will not know the complete facts and circumstances surrounding this event until the investigation by an independent agency is concluded.”
Simone made a brief appearance in Nashua District Court Thursday on a fugitive from justice charge, and will be heading back to Massachusetts to face charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and fleeing from police. He waived his right to fight his extradition from New Hampshire to Massachusetts, and is being held without bail until he can be picked up by Massachusetts authorities.
Simone’s left eye was visibly puffy and his ear was bloody during his court appearance Thursday.
“He wasn’t putting up a fight. He got out and they were attacking him and I don’t know what he did. Obviously they weren’t happy, but, I mean, he wasn’t fighting them, so it was a little bit much I think,” witness Melissa Oquendo told WBZ-TV.
The pursuit began when Simone refused to stop for local police in Holden. He was wanted on multiple warrants for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, larceny, and failure to stop for police.
Holden police chased him, and a Massachusetts State Police cruiser followed.
The chase went through several towns at speeds exceeding 100 mph, with the pickup truck “making abrupt lane changes as the (suspect) continued to try to evade capture” and crashing at least once, said Dave Procopio, a state police spokesman.
But spike strips laid out by police eventually took their toll as the pickup truck rolled to a stop on Hughey Street in Nashua, New Hampshire.
WBZ-TV’s helicopter video showed the truck stopped next to a utility pole on a dead-end street before police officers surrounded it with their weapons drawn.
The driver stepped from the truck, got onto the ground and was on all fours and lowering himself when the officers set upon him, throwing punches.
Massachusetts State Police said Simone will face new charges related to the chase. The Worcester County District Attorney’s office said Thursday that, after Simone’s court appearance in New Hampshire, his office was working out the logistics of moving Simone to Worcester.
New Hampshire’s governor called for a full investigation into the use of force by police in the incident.
“The Governor is aware of the situation and we’ve reached out to the Departments of Safety and Justice,” said Ricki Eshman, a spokeswoman for New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan. “All New Hampshire public safety officials are held to the highest standards, and the Governor expects this will be full investigated,” the statement said.
On Thursday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker also voiced support for the investigation.
“I thought the video was incredibly disturbing,” Gov. Baker told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker. “We want to cooperate and collaborate in whatever way we can to make sure that this investigation in New Hampshire goes forward.”
He also said he would call Gov. Maggie Hassan to discuss the investigation.
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WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports