SOMERVILLE (AP/CBS) — A Massachusetts police officer faces an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charge for allegedly using pepper spray on a suspect who was already in custody and wearing handcuffs, authorities said.

Somerville Officer Michael McGrath is scheduled to be arraigned next month, the Middlesex district attorney’s office said in a statement Friday.

“The complaint arises from an incident in which the officer allegedly deployed pepper spray on an individual who was in custody and who allegedly posed no threat to the officer,” the statement said.

Surveillance video shows Somerville Officer Michael McGrath pepper spraying a suspect (Image credit City of Somerville)

The encounter occurred on October 2019, but the city on Friday released surveillance video of the incident.

Mayor Joe Curtatone said the video was released in the interest of transparency.

“Let me be perfectly clear, the City of Somerville and the Somerville Police Department do not and will not tolerate any unnecessary use of force,” Curtatone said.

McGrath had been placed on paid administrative leave with his police powers suspended within hours of the alleged assault, and is now on unpaid leave in light of the felony charge, authorities said.

McGarth is the president of the Somerville police union.

“Whether it’s the head of the union, it’s rank and file, or a superior officer, I think my reaction is consistent with the public’s,” Curtatone said. “At minimum I would say I was disturbed.”

It was not clear if McGrath had an attorney.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  1. Richard F. White says:

    I wonder if the fact that McGarth is the President of the Somerville police union has any connection. Did he believe he could do whatever he pleased with someone who was already under arrest and in handcuffs since he is Police Union President?

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