EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 31, 2012

Gunless cop to return to police force

LAWRENCE — Officer Daron Fraser is scheduled to return to the police department this week, 29 months after he was placed on paid suspension and later convicted of domestic assault and battery.

However, once he’s back, the veteran officer will be without a seemingly crucial police tool —his firearm.

Fraser, 40, was placed on paid administrative leave in July 2010 after he was arrested and charged with beating his then girlfriend. A Haverhill jury convicted Fraser of domestic assault and battery in February 2011.

Despite police Chief John Romero’s requests to fire him, Fraser remained on the city payroll until October 2012, before Mayor William Lantigua adopted a hearing officer’s decision and suspended Fraser without pay for three months starting in October.

Methuen lawyer Robert LeBlanc, the hearing officer, also recommended Fraser be barred from working paid police details for four months.

Over the 29 months of paid suspension, Fraser earned more than $150,000 and kept accruing sick and vacation time and retirement benefits, according to city records.

Romero said Fraser will not be allowed to carry a firearm when he returns to work. Romero pointed to federal law that prohibits those convicted of domestic violence from carrying guns.

“Based on the federal statue and given his conviction, he cannot carry a gun and therefore will be assigned to dispatch,” Romero said.

Hearing officer Leblanc said the officer should be allowed to return to work because carrying a gun is not required to perform the job as police officer.

Officers working paid details must also be armed so it’s unclear if Fraser will be able to work paid detail shifts once that suspension is lifted in a month.

Fraser was found guilty of putting his knee on his former girlfriend’s throat and gagging her. The woman later told The Eagle-Tribune this was not a case of domestic violence but rather a “giant misunderstanding.” She also told jurors she and Fraser were “just playing.”

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