EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 21, 2014

Seabrook man indicted on burglary charges

Suspect's video launched police brutality investigation

By Angeljean Chiarmida
STAFF WRITER

---- — BRENTWOOD, N.H. — A Rockingham County grand jury recently indicted the man in the middle of a police brutality investigation at Seabrook Police Department on burglary charges.

According to court documents, Michael Bergeron Jr., 24, of 112 Cimarron, Seabrook, was indicted earlier this month on the charge of burglary for allegedly entering a Hampton home to commit the crime of theft.

The charges, brought by Hampton Police Department, stem from an incident that is alleged to have taken place on Aug. 13, 2013. According to court documents, Bergeron was acting with another individual at the time.

The charge is a B felony, which can carry a jail term of up to seven years.

Bergeron’s police brutality allegations against Seabrook police unfolded in January after a video of his Nov. 11, 2009, arrest was posted on the Internet via YouTube. The video shows Bergeron, 19 at the time, being slammed into the wall while being escorted down a police station hallway by three officers after he was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and drug possession.

The video stunned residents and was instantly the subject of news reports across the state and nation. The three officers involved in the incident were immediately placed on paid administrative leave, where they remain.

The offices of the New Hampshire Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire and the FBI are currently conducting criminal investigations into the possibility of charges being brought on police brutality and federal civil rights violations.

The Seabrook Police Department is also planning to conduct an internal investigation into the incident to determine if the department’s own policies were violated by any officer involved. However, Seabrook police Chief Lee Bitomske said earlier this month that his department will hold off until the outside agencies complete their investigations.

The video shows Bergeron, handcuffed and held by the arm by officer Mark Richardson, as he is walked down the corridor at the Liberty Lane police station. Officers Adam Laurent and Keith Dietenhofer walk alongside.

At one point, Richardson throws Bergeron against the wall, where he hits his head and falls to the floor. Bergeron is hauled to his feet before falling again. Shortly after, Laurent administers what appears to be pepper spray. At various points, Laurent looks directly at the surveillance camera and smiles. The video has no sound.

According to police reports of Bergeron’s arrest at the time, he was described as uncooperative, verbally abusive, combative and hostile to police, as well as “an emotional roller coaster” during his detainment at the police station.

The request for the video footage of Bergeron’s arrest was made prior to Bergeron’s 2009 court appearance on the charges against him. The tape was released to Bergeron’s attorney prior to his court appearance four years ago.

The recent burglary indictment and 2009 DWI and drug possession arrest were not Bergeron’s first encounters with law enforcement. A check of police logs kept by The Daily News shows Bergeron had encounters with Seabrook police prior to 2009, beginning at age 17 in 2007, when he was charged with illegal possession of tobacco by a minor.

In July 2009, Bergeron was arrested for drug possession and illegal possession of alcohol.

In July 2013, he was arrested for simple assault, and in October 2013 Bergeron was arrested and charged with second-degree assault and robbery after an incident on Route 107. Three months earlier, Bergeron was arrested on Kimberly Lane and charged with simple assault.