A case of alleged police brutality dating back to 2009 is being investigated and three officers are on paid leave in New Hampshire after a video of an incident seems to have resurfaced this week.
Michael Bergeron, 19 years old at the time of the incident, said he has chipped teeth and a permanent lump on the back of his head as a result of the treatment by Seabrook police officers.
In a description of the video dated Nov. 11, 2009, but posted Monday, Bergeron explained that he was charged with driving while intoxicated, though he said he explained to police that he “wasn’t drunk and they could be out catching actual criminals.”
According to Bergeron, he was taken to jail and later allowed to call for a ride after posting bond.
“After calling a ride, I was told I could take my phone that I called from and my wallet,” he wrote. “As soon as I [grabbed] my wallet from the table [the] officer with the glasses came at me saying he never told me I could take my stuff and choked me against the wall then tried to grab the wallet from my pocket. Once he got the wallet and my phone, this is what happened.”
In the video, a shirtless man was seen being led down the hall by three officers. Without audio, it is unclear what was said, but within seconds, the shirtless man was slammed into the cinderblock wall face first.
Then, the man fell to the ground, was spoken to by police and pulled back to his feet, struggling to walk forward as his pants were falling down. He held his arms out against the wall as he walked and was thrown to the ground, out of the camera’s view.
The officers remained somewhat in the camera’s field of view, but what they did to the man while he was on the ground was not captured on video.
One officer wearing glasses seemed to be smiling. A fourth officer appeared on the scene and paced the length of the hallway.
After about a minute, the shirtless man was brought back into the camera’s view and led back down the hallway into another room. For the remainder of the footage posted, the man did not appear again.
Watch the video:
In the video description, Bergeron said he got a lawyer after the incident, but the lawyer allegedly “took the tapes and disappeared for two years until I finally tracked him down.”
Bergeron wrote that he thought it was too late to launch a lawsuit against the officers but noted he was talking to another lawyer.
WMUR-TV reported that three Seabrook officers were placed on paid administrative leave Tuesday while the video is being investigated by the attorney general’s office.
Town Manager Bill Manzi told the news station that officials were unaware of the alleged incident until now.
“We would be looking at, through the chief of police, whether Seabrook policies and procedures were followed, and if they were not followed, what should be done about it,” Manzi told WMUR. “We think that the Seabrook Police Department and the chief of police take their responsibility to the public very seriously — I know I do — and we will conduct a thorough investigation of the activities on the video.”
Private Investigator David McGrath watched the film for WMUR, telling the news station he thinks “it’s a dangerous video.”
“It shows the police, you know that are supposed to protect us, they’re actually harming someone,” McGrath said.
From McGrath’s perspective, the person in custody did not appear to be resisting police and was “dazed and confused” from being slammed into a wall.
Watch WMUR-TV’s report:
The officers who have been placed on leave were not named.