EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 30, 2012

Methuen cop gets suspended for fight

By Brian Messenger
bmessenger@eagletribune.com

---- — METHUEN — A Methuen police officer accused of assaulting a 25-year-old woman during a bachelorette party brawl at a Salisbury Beach bar last summer will serve a 90-day unpaid suspension from his job.

Shawn Tardif, 38, will also volunteer at a violence prevention program, undergo an alcohol and anger-management assessment, and submit to random alcohol testing for three years, according to the terms of a two-page disciplinary decision.

Methuen police Chief Joseph Solomon said the discipline — a one-year, unpaid suspension in which Tardif will serve just three months — is the result of an “in-depth investigation” by the Methuen Police Department that began after Tardif was arrested Aug. 4.

“It’s a pretty harsh punishment,” said Solomon. “It shows how seriously we take off-duty behavior.”

Tardif was arrested by Salisbury police while off-duty and unarmed after a brawl at the Surfside 5 Bar and Grill. The six-year-veteran of the Methuen Police Department was charged with assault and battery and wanton destruction of property over $250. Tardif admitted to sufficient facts and was sentenced Nov. 20.

Tardif was placed on paid administrative leave after his arrest and later returned, minus his firearm, to restricted desk duty a week later. He is set to begin serving his suspension tomorrow and could return to work Feb. 23.

The nine-month balance of Tardif’s suspension will be held in abeyance for three years, meaning he will be required to serve the remainder if he gets into trouble in the future, Solomon said.

Tardif has also agreed to forfeit 10 vacation days, volunteer 40 hours at a violence prevention program within the next six months, undergo an alcohol and anger-management assessment, and attend any counseling that is recommended as a result.

He has also agreed to refrain from drinking alcohol for a minimum of a year and undergo random alcohol testing for three years.

Several of the conditions Tardif agreed to in his disciplinary decision were also spelled out during his sentencing.

Tardif avoided having to plead guilty by admitting to sufficient facts. Judge Peter Doyle continued his case without finding for three years, meaning his charges will be dismissed if he adheres to conditions imposed by the court and stays out of trouble.

In addition to 100 hours of community service, Tardif must stay away from and have no contact with the victim, attend anger management courses and pay $50 to the Victim-Witness Fund. He was also ordered to pay $2,645 in restitution after smashing DJ equipment during the brawl.

Witnesses at the Surfside 5 Bar and Grill described Tardif as being “in a rage” when he assaulted Nicole Morrison, 25, who was attending a bachelorette party. Tardif was at the bar with his wife Stacey, 44, and other friends. The altercation occurred at 11:20 p.m. after tension between the two groups escalated and allegedly after Morrison threw a drink at Stacey Tardif.

Tardif is accused of grabbing Morrison by the back of her neck, forcing her to the floor and then dragging her by her hair. When Salisbury police arrived, Morrison showed police a clump of hair Tardif allegedly ripped from her scalp.

Two security guards jumped in to break up the fight. Tardif punched one in the face, according to police. Additionally, $5,000 worth of DJ equipment belonging to Ryan Oiler, 35, was damaged.

A call to Tardif’s attorney was not returned yesterday.

Solomon said Tardif likely would have faced a termination hearing if he was found guilty. By agreeing to the disciplinary decision, the chief said Tardif has waived his rights to all appeals. Solomon said he considers that “a sign of good faith that he wants to move forward.”

“This won’t drag out in Civil Service,” said Solomon. “This is a final agreement by the parties.”