EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 30, 2013

Andover police officer on paid leave

By Dustin Luca

---- — ANDOVER — A patrolman who was named a Police Officer of the Year in January is facing a hearing that will determine whether he should be charged in an alleged hit-and-run, drunken driving accident in March.

Evan Robitaille, 32, is scheduled to appear at a clerk magistrates’s hearing next week to answer a summons issued to him by State Police following the March 11 accident.

The “criminal summons” was for operating under the influence of liquor, leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to use care in starting, stopping, turning or backing up a motor vehicle, according to the State Police daily log for March 11.

Andover Police Commander Charles Heseltine said Robitaille has been on paid administrative leave since the date of the incident. “He’ll stay on paid administrative leave until (the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office) gives us the outcome of the case.”

Robitaille was treated “just like any officer,” Heseltine said.

When the department learns a police investigation involves one of its officers, whether in Andover or another jurisdiction, the office is automatically placed on paid leave, according to Heseltine.

Robitaille’s clerk magistrate hearing is scheduled for next Friday at Lowell District Court, Guyotte said.

At the hearing, a court magistrate will review the case and determine if there is enough evidence to issue a criminal complaint.

Guyotte said she couldn’t give additional details about the case because the investigation is continuing.

State Police Lt. Stephen Walsh, working out of the Andover barracks, said he couldn’t comment beyond saying there was an investigation that resulted in the court summons.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s office issued a press release Aug. 8 asking for the public’s help identifying “a person who may have witnessed an automobile crash” on Interstate 495 South around Tewksbury “at about 9:30 a.m. on March 11, 2013.”

Guyotte declined comment on whether the press release was related to the summons issued to Robitaille and noted in the State Police log at 9:30 a.m., March 11.

Robitaille was one of two Andover police officers honored as officers of the year by the Exchange Club of Lawrence in January for their on-duty heroics over the previous year.

In 2009, Robitaille was on the receiving end of an alleged drunk driving accident, according to an Eagle-Tribune story. The story said that when he stopped to check on a young woman walking after midnight on Route 28 near Phillips Academy in Andover, a 23-year-old Dracut woman rear-ended his cruiser, sending him to the hospital and totaling the cruiser.

The woman was charged with operating under the influence, operating to endanger and speeding. The disposition of the charges is not known.

Robitaille was treated for back and neck pain after the crash and later released.

An attempt to reach Robitaille for a comment was unsuccessful.