A Lowell District Court jury took less than half an hour this morning to find a client of Spring & Spring not guilty of assaulting a police officer. Attorney Chris Spring tried the case.
In October of 2014, the client was a passenger in a pickup truck that was driving on a street in downtown Lowell. A Lowell police officer stopped the truck because it was traveling the wrong way down a one-way street. The officer approached the truck and had a conversation with the driver, who smelled like alcohol. The officer asked the driver to get out of the truck to submit to field sobriety tests to determine if he was intoxicated. As the driver and the officer were standing near the back of the truck, the client was allegedly moving around the passenger compartment in a suspicious manner. The client then opened his door on the passenger side of the truck and got out. The officer removed his gun from the holster and ordered the client to return to his seat, which the client did.
Within a minute, another officer arrived on the scene. The first officer told him to search the client for weapons. The second officer opened the passenger door to the truck and pulled the client out. The officer conceded that at some point as he was getting the client out of the truck, he pointed his gun at the client’s body. According to the officer, the client struggled when he was being pulled out of the truck and resisted the police efforts to search him. Immediately before he was arrested, the client allegedly punched one of the officers on the arm. According to the client, he was yanked out of the truck, thrown on the ground, and beaten by the police. The client had some scratches on his face and Attorney Spring entered pictures of the scratches into evidence. The officer said the client was hurt when the police placed him on the ground to handcuff him.
At trial, two of the officers who were involved in the incident testified. One of the officers testified that the client appeared to be drunk and was cursing when he exited the truck. Attorney Spring challenged the officer’s testimony on cross-examination, pointing out that the officer had left these important facts out of his police report. Attorney Spring attacked the credibility of the second officer, pointing out that he never took photographs of the client (other than a booking photo) to document his injuries, and he had no physical proof that the client struck him. Both officers were forced to admit that there were no weapons, drugs, or other contraband discovered either in the truck or in the client’s pockets.
The client testified that he did nothing to incite the beating inflicted on him by the police. He said he was struck and kicked by the officers when he was lying on the ground. He denied resisting the officers’ efforts to search him and said he never hit any of the officers.
Attorney Spring argued in his closing argument that after the police injured his client, they were forced to fabricate the assault charge in order to deflect attention from their own bad conduct. The jury returned a very quick verdict of not guilty.