Seabrook police officer indicted for assaulting prisoner in station
CONCORD — A Seabrook police officer has been indicted on an assault charge by members of a grand jury who reviewed video footage of the officer slamming an inmate’s head into a concrete wall, the state Attorney General’s Office said Thursday.
Officer Mark Richardson was an on-duty law enforcement officer at the time of the arrest of Michael Bergeron Jr., on Nov. 11, 2009. The video, which surfaced on YouTube in January, shows Richardson slamming Bergeron’s head against the wall while he and two other officers were leading him down a hallway.
Associate Attorney General Jane Young said Thursday the investigation began in January after the video was posted and Seabrook police notified the AG’s office.
It remained unclear Thursday how the surveillance video remained undiscovered for so long.
“Because this is a pending criminal matter, we are not able to divulge that information,” Young said. “When law enforcement in this office became aware of the video, the investigation was launched.”
A Rockingham County Grand Jury indicted Richardson for having “unprivileged physical contact” with Bergeron, who was then 19. Because Richardson was an on-duty law enforcement officer at the time, the count of simple assault could carry enhanced penalties of up to two to five years in state prison and a $4,000 fine.
Richardson is due to be arraigned April 24 in Rockingham County Superior Court.
Seabrook police did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment Thursday evening.
The grand jury did not indict officer Adam Laurent, who was shown using pepper spray on Bergeron.
Officers Richardson, Laurent and Keith Dietenhofer were placed on paid administrative leave in January.
Richardson apparently never wrote a report about his involvement in Bergeron’s arrest.
In his report, Laurent wrote that he saw Richardson perform what appeared to be an “arm bar” on Bergeron.
Bergeron fell to the floor and then stood with Richardson’s help.
“Bergeron fell to the floor again and crawled on all fours, not responding to Officer Richardson’s orders. Due to Bergeron’s prior spitting and failure to comply to anyone’s order as he was on an emotional rollercoaster I pepper sprayed him as he looked back at us in the hallway,” wrote Laurent, who is the husband of Greenland Police Chief Tara Laurent.
Police said the incident began when officer David Hersey stopped Bergeron’s 1996 Jeep Cherokee after he failed to stop at a stop sign and was seen speeding. Hersey said he could smell a strong odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle and that Bergeron’s eyes “were glassy and his speech was slow and slurred,” the report said.
Bergeron was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of marijuana. He was found guilty on both charges in June 2010; he was fined and had his license suspended for 18 months.