By Jill Harmacinski
---- — LAWRENCE — Just three weeks after he returned to work, Officer Daron Fraser is off the job again, now accused of assaulting a superior officer while on duty.
Police Chief John Romero confirmed that Fraser, 40, was placed on paid administrative leave yesterday after he allegedly assaulted a sergeant in the police station on Sunday night. Fraser returned to work in early January some 29 months after he was placed on paid suspension and later convicted of domestic assault and battery.
Sunday’s incident is being investigated internally by Capt. Scott McNamara, the patrol commander. Police are also requesting a hearing before a Lawrence District Court clerk magistrate to see if Fraser should face criminal assault and battery charges, Romero said. A date for the court hearing was not set yesterday.
Romero would not comment on the nature of the assault. However, police sources said Fraser “belly-bumped” a sergeant after an argument over closing the door to the police department’s radio room/dispatch area.
In July 2010, Fraser was placed on paid administrative leave after he was arrested and charged with beating his then girlfriend. A Haverhill jury later convicted Fraser of domestic assault and battery for putting his knee on his ex-girlfriend’s throat and gagging her. Despite Romero’s requests to fire him, Fraser remained on the city payroll until October 2012. At that time, Mayor William Lantigua adopted a hearing officer’s decision and suspended Fraser without pay for three months starting in October.
Lantigua allowed Fraser to come back to work earlier this month, although Romero would not allow Fraser to carry a firearm. Romero pointed to a federal law that prohibits those convicted of domestic violence from carrying guns. Because he cannot carry a gun, Fraser was assigned to the radio room/dispatch area when he came back to work earlier this month.
During the 29 months of paid suspension, Fraser earned more than $150,000 and also continued to accrue sick and vacation time and retirement benefits. Fraser, who earns roughly $60,000 annually, was also barred from working paid details for four months. Fraser could not be reached for comment for this story.
Fraser is the fourth police officer currently on paid administrative leave within the department.
Fellow Officer Carlos Gonzalez was put on paid leave Dec. 17 as he remains under investigation in an unspecified criminal case in Florida. Gonzalez earns $60,000 annually.
Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla, who earns $140,000 annually, was indicted on felony charges in September in an ongoing investigation into Lantigua and his administration. Bonilla is accused of swapping 13 city-owned vehicles for four Chevrolets with a Lantigua friend. The state Inspector General said the city lost $30,000 in the deal.
Also in September, Officer P.J. Lopez was indicted by a federal grand jury. He’s accused of making arrangements with a local two company to have cars he ticketed towed in exchange for a “stream of benefits” including a $4,000 snow plow. Lopez faces charges of bribery, making false statements to a federal agency and obstruction of justice in connection with an unnamed towing company in Lawrence.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.