EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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January 16, 2014

Officer charged with assault

Salem policeman suspended without pay, faces charges

SALEM — Police Officer Joseph Freda, 33, was charged with two counts of simple assault yesterday, charges stemming from an arrest he made in Salem Oct. 6.

Freda, who was put on paid leave in late October when the allegations first came to light, turned himself in yesterday on a warrant, was processed and released.

Freda allegedly struck Thomas Templeton in the head with a flashlight and stepped on Templeton’s hands while they were handcuffed behind his back and he was on the ground, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Templeton, 39, was injured during the arrest, including lacerations to his head, according to the release.

About two weeks after Templeton’s arrest, New Hampshire State Police notified the Attorney General’s Office of the injuries Templeton sustained during his arrest, allegedly at Freda’s hands.

The Attorney General’s Office notified Salem police Oct. 23 that there was an active investigation into allegations of excessive force by Freda, Salem police said in a statement yesterday.

Freda was immediately put on paid leave and an internal investigation was launched, Deputy Chief Shawn Patten said in a written statement.

That investigation concluded last week and Freda was placed on unpaid leave. An administrative hearing is scheduled for next week.

Attorney Donald Blaszka Jr. is representing Freda in the criminal matter.

He said he received notice yesterday morning from the Attorney General’s Office that an arrest warrant had been issued for his client.

Blaszka said Freda turned himself in at the Salem station yesterday, was processed and released on $2,500 personal recognizance. He said Freda will plead not guilty to the charges, Class A misdemeanors.

Blaszka said he couldn’t comment further, but that his client will dispute the allegations.

A Salem High graduate, Freda was a standout high school wrestler. In 2000, he was the 140-pound New England champion. He also played football for Salem High.

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