EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 16, 2014

Officer charged with assault

Salem policeman suspended without pay, faces charges

By Jo-Anne MacKenzie

---- — 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.

Freda served in the U.S. Marine Corps before he became a police officer. He was a member of the Brookline Police Department until he left that job in the summer of 2012 to join the Salem force.

Freda was injured on the job in late November 2012. A melee on Stonegate Lane resulted in five arrests, a cruiser window being smashed and Freda’s hand broken.

The injury occurred when Dalton Cyr tried to grab Freda’s gun out of his holster. Freda used pepper spray to subdue Cyr, but his hand was broken during the scuffle.

Last May, Cyr was sentenced to a year in jail in a plea deal.

Templeton, the alleged victim in this case, is in the county jail.

Salem police had nothing to say beyond the brief release yesterday, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.

“The Salem Police Department does not tolerate excessive use of force from its police officers. The Salem Police Department has longstanding policies and procedures in place providing guidance for our officers,” Patten wrote in the release. “The Salem Police Department provides comprehensive, ongoing, and mandatory training for all of its officers on all aspects of police activity, including training on arrest procedures and acceptable use of force. It is our expectation that these policies will be followed.”

Freda is scheduled to be arraigned in 10th Circuit Court in Salem next month.