SALEM, NH (CBS) – Bob Andersen says he was standing between two parents who were having a verbal argument at the Icenter rink in Salem, New Hampshire, when witnesses say police came through the door, grabbed Bob, pushed him to the ground, tased him several times, and put him in handcuffs.
“I didn’t know how it was gonna end,” Andersen told the I-Team’s Cheryl Fiandaca. “I could hear my son crying and screaming. I could hear my wife screaming,” the Wilmington dad recalled.
It happened back in December. Two rival teams were playing each other and parents from one team say there were some questionable calls by the referee. “There had been a referee who was heckling our kids, and there was a little bit of verbal back and forth going on with a few of the parents,” parent Jen Hout recalled. “There was no fighting. There was no punches, nothing.”
When the game was over, in the lobby of the rink, witnesses say two parents got into a heated argument and Anderson tried to diffuse the situation. “He was just making a wall between our parent and the other parent that were having the argument. He just placed himself between them and he was just trying to calm the situation down,” parent witness Bill Dusablon recalled.
Witnesses who agreed to speak with the I-Team say that’s when police arrived and, without announcing themselves or asking anyone what happened, threw Andersen to the ground.
Several people videotaped the incident with their cell phones. Andersen can be heard screaming with four cops pinning him to the floor of the rink lobby. Two of them tased the 45-year-old.
Meantime, witnesses yelled “he did nothing wrong.”
On police dispatch recordings, one officer says, “We need more units. We just tased someone. It’s out of control here.”
The I-Team obtained police reports of the incident. In one account, an officer wrote, “I announced, ‘Salem Police, back off’.”
Dusablon told the I-Team, “I didn’t hear him say a word.”
Another officer wrote in his report that, while Anderson was on the ground, he “began to violently thrash around, attempting to escape.”
Parents we spoke with dispute that account as well. “He was already down, that’s when they started tasing him for no reason. He wasn’t going anywhere. There were four cops on him and he wasn’t fighting back or anything. There was no reason for that,” one parent said.
Andersen’s attorney, Chris DiBella, says the cell phone videos and witness accounts support his claim that Anderson was assaulted by police.
Andersen is charged with resisting arrest and assaulting the police. Recently, the District Attorney decided to indict Andersen in Superior Court, where he now faces up to five years in jail. “I think they’re doubling down,” DiBella explained. “They’re trying to intimidate him into resolving this matter, and it’s not something we’re interested in doing. They passed the line when my client’s been tased six or seven times in front of children.”
Andersen, who insists he did nothing wrong, is suspended from coaching while he waits for his day in court. “The other kids I coach were crying. To see them all in there crying is difficult, very difficult,” he said.
Bob is due back in court next month. Police told the I-Team that the Attorney General’s office reviewed a complaint it received and found no wrongdoing on the part of the police. The department also told us that their own review of the same complaint found no evidence that the officers did anything wrong. Just weeks ago the Salem town manager hired an outside agency to audit the police department and its internal affairs investigations.