FALL RIVER (CBS) – A grand jury has indicted a veteran Fall River Police officer on charges that he abused his authority and used “excessive and unnecessary force” during four separate incidents.

Michael Pessoa, a 17-year veteran of the department, was indicted on a variety of charges that include aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, civil rights violation with bodily injury, and filing a false report.

Michael Pessoa in court (WBZ-TV)

Fall River Police referred the case to the Bristol County District Attorney’s office in March. The incidents allegedly took place in 2014, 2018 and twice in 2019.

“Three of the victims were treated at the hospital as a result of their injuries,” said Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn.

A defense attorney provided WBZ-TV with grainy video, allegedly showing four Fall River police officers surrounding 57-year-old David Lafrance. Then, the attorney says Pessoa suddenly attacks Lafrance, taking him to the ground, causing serious injuries.

“We rely on the police to serve and protect us, these allegations undermine people’s confidence in law enforcement,” Quinn said.

Pessoa was arraigned Thursday and released on $5,000 cash bail. He has been ordered to turn in his badge and his gun.

Fall River Police said in a statement Pessoa had been placed on paid administrative leave on April 23. He has since been suspended without pay pending the criminal case.


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