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Fate of trooper charged with beating motorist in hands of jury

Union Leader Correspondent

October 11. 2017 9:04PM
At center, Massachusetts state trooper Joseph Flynn talks with his attorneys Wednesday during his assault trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court. The jury is now deliberating. (Kimberly Houghton)

Judge Charles Temple listens as Senior Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Susan Morrell gives her closing arguments Wednesday at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua. (Kimberly Houghton/Correspondent)

NASHUA — The jury charged with determining whether a Massachusetts state trooper is guilty of two counts of simple assault resumes deliberations this morning after conferring for three hours Wednesday afternoon in Hillsborough County Superior Court.

Trooper Joseph Flynn is accused of beating driver Richard Simone, who was cornered on a Nashua street after leading police on a lengthy high-speed chase that began in Holden, Mass., in May 2016.

In her closing argument to the jury on Wednesday, the New Hampshire prosecutor called the incident “a beatdown.”

“What you saw was a trained law enforcement officer who lost control. He violated his oath. He broke his promise,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell told jurors.

Morrell said Flynn hit Simone eight times after Simone got out of his truck and knelt on the ground to surrender with both hands in front of him. The incident was captured on video by helicopter news crews.

Flynn’s defense attorney, however, urged the jury to consider all of the facts in the case, including the fact that former New Hampshire Trooper Andrew Monaco pleaded guilty to simple assault for the same incident.

“Justice was served with the criminal prosecution and pleas with Monaco. It was served,” said attorney Ronald Caron, who described Monaco as an out-of-control thug who had no regard for the safety of the other officers on the scene.

The law provides leeway for a police officer, according to Caron, stressing that law enforcement officers are justified in using non-deadly force when they reasonably believe it is necessary to conduct an arrest or prevent an escape.

“The law provides that mechanism for reasonable belief because police officers are in a position often that requires acts in a split-second decision,” said Caron, noting the entire incident took 12 seconds.

Morrell argued that when a suspect shows his hands, kneels down on the pavement with his hands in front of him and begins to lie on his belly, those are universally recognized signs of surrender.

“He wants you to excuse those eight times he punched and hit a man who was surrendering based on another police officer’s actions … eight punches are not reasonable. The defendant knew that then and he knows that now,” said Morrell.

Flynn, 32, of North Tewksbury, Mass., is facing two enhanced misdemeanor charges of simple assault by an on-duty police officer. Flynn is currently on paid leave, and is facing a possible prison sentence of two to five years on each charge.

In his negotiated guilty plea, Monaco received a deferred jail term and agreed to never seek another job in law enforcement. As part of that deal, he agreed to testify at Flynn’s trial. He resigned from the state police before taking the plea agreement.

“It is like Never Land out of ‘Peter Pan,’ for God’s sake. They want to say that (Flynn) was angry,” said Caron, asking the jury not to equate Monaco’s actions with Flynn’s.

Caron said he was proud of Flynn, adding the man was trying to get Simone’s arm out from underneath him in an attempt to take him into custody.

Morrell maintained that Flynn could have grabbed Simone’s arm but instead chose to hit him repeatedly, adding Flynn never attempted to grab his handcuffs in the process.

“Those were not submission strikes. That was a beatdown,” she said.

Courts Nashua