Police officers relieved from duty after violent end to car chase

Posted at 2:11 PM, May 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-12 16:14:55-04

By David Shortell


(CNN) — A pair of New England state troopers were relieved from duty without pay Thursday after a multistate car chase that began in Massachusetts ended in a violent arrest, officials said.

News helicopters hovering over the final moments of Wednesday’s pursuit in Nashua, New Hampshire, captured video of uniformed law enforcement officers throwing punches at the suspect as he knelt on the ground next to his pickup truck, his hands on the asphalt in front of him.

The takedown played out live on some local news stations.

New Hampshire State Police Director Robert Quinn told reporters one of his troopers was “immediately relieved from duty without pay” for his alleged involvement in the “disturbing” incident. His agency will conduct an internal investigation and cooperate with a criminal probe by the state attorney general.

“I want the public and law enforcement personnel to know that the division of state police does not condone the unjustified use of force, and it will not be tolerated,” Quinn said.

A Massachusetts state trooper has been relieved of duty pending an internal hearing Friday, State Police Col. Richard McKeon said in a statement. The officer could be placed on modified assignment or suspended pending the investigation. The agency will review its vehicle pursuit policy.

“The Massachusetts State Police expect and demand all department members to act at all times with integrity, honor, and adherence to the law,” the statement said.

The troopers were not identified.

Dave Procopio, spokesman for Massachusetts State Police, had earlier said the agency was reviewing “whether the level of force used was appropriate given the totality of the circumstances.”

The internal police reviews are separate from the New Hampshire attorney general’s criminal investigation.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a statement that the footage “raises serious concerns” and the incident is being treated “with the utmost seriousness without disparaging all of the hard-working police officers who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.”

The chase began just after 4 p.m. in Holden, Massachusetts, after local police attempted to stop a man “known to them to be the subject of multiple warrants,” Procopio said.

When the suspect, identified as 50-year-old Richard Simone, refused to pull over, Holden police began a pursuit.

Massachusetts State Police cruisers soon joined in.

Simone, who was wanted for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, larceny, and a previous instance of failure to stop for police, “continued making abrupt lane changes” as he “continued to try to evade capture,” Procopio said.

Many turns and some 50 miles later, Simone raced over the Tyngsborough Bridge, and soon after, the state line.

Local and state police in New Hampshire joined the pursuit before Simone at last pulled over in a residential neighborhood of Nashua, nearly an hour after the chase had begun.

Several police officers, some with their guns drawn and one restraining a dog, encircled Simone as he crawled out of his car, the news helicopter video shows.

At least two law enforcement officers can be seen repeatedly punching the suspect as he lay on ground. It was not immediately clear which agencies the offending officers were from.

Simone was taken into custody and booked by Nashua Police, Procopio said. He will face charges on the underlying warrants and also new charges relating to the car chase on Wednesday, according to Procopio.

Nashua Police did not respond to a request for comment.

CNN’s John Newsome and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.