It was a bad week for local law enforcement, as two local police officers found themselves in court answering to criminal charges.
In Ayer District Court yesterday, Billerica Police Officer John Hickey was arraigned on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (shod foot) and assault and battery. The charges result from an investigation into an incident that occurred at the Billerica Elks in June of 2013. According to the Lowell Sun, witnesses reported Hickey became involved in an argument with the complainant, who was also a member of the Elks. As the complainant attempted to stand up from his chair, Hickey shoved him backward and began punching him in the face. Once he knocked the complainant to the ground, Hickey allegedly kicked him. The complainant told the police he sustained a black eye and facial lacerations. The bartender confirmed Hickey “went after” the complainant after arguing with the complainant’s wife. A security camera reportedly captured the fight on video, which is now in the possession of Billerica police.
According to the police, this isn’t Hickey’s first fight. A Billerica police lieutenant spoke to an off-duty Cambridge firefighter who claims Hickey attacked him in 2010 as he was watching Monday Night Football at the Elks. The firefighter said after a verbal argument, Hickey began punching him and had to be pulled away. The firefighter said he never reported the incident because he feared repercussions from the police. Hickey has a second pending case in Ayer District Court where he is charged with leaving the scene of property damage. He is charged with hitting a parked car in 2014 and then driving home without stopping. Both of his Ayer cases were continued until December. Hickey is currently on leave from the police department.
Meanwhile, a former Pepperell police sergeant was arraigned today in Woburn Superior Court after being indicted for allegedly strangling a woman who was in custody at the police station in September. According to the Boston Globe, Armando Herrera pled not guilty to charges of strangulation, willfully misleading a police investigation, and filing a false police report. The district attorney’s office contends Herrera was responsible for booking an intoxicated woman who had been brought to the police station. After the woman was placed in a locked cell, she began yelling. Herrera allegedly entered the cell and started to strangle her. Another officer restrained Herrera to prevent the attack from continuing. Prosecutors allege that Herrera then filed a police report with inaccurate information related to the attack. Herrera resigned as a police officer last month. He is due back in court in early-December.
If the allegations are true, these two men belong in jail. It’s always disturbing when someone who is trusted to protect the public is charged with committing a violent crime. Criminal defense attorneys hear stories about abusive police conduct all the time, and it’s discouraging to discover the stories are often true. Going forward, rogue cops will have a hard time keeping their criminal acts secret as security cameras and cellphone cameras are more and more likely to record their crimes.