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New Hampshire

April 11, 2014

Seabrook police officer indicted on suspect's assault

SEABROOK, N.H. — A grand jury has indicted Seabrook police officer Mark Richardson, charging him with assault after he was caught on tape slamming a suspect’s head into a concrete wall at the police station.

The state attorney general Joseph A. Foster said Thursday that Richardson was charged in connection with the Nov. 11, 2009 incident at the Seabrook police station. In surveillance video, Richardson is seen walking then-19-year-old Michael Bergeron Jr., down a hall and shoving him into a wall. Bergeron had been arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated and drug possession at the time.

Also in the video walking beside Bergeron, Jr., was officer Adam Laurent, later seen spraying him with pepper spray. The grand jury, however, did not indict Laurent on charges.

Since on duty at the time, Richardson faces up to 2 to 5 years in prison and a $4,000 fine if convicted. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As soon as the YouTube video became public on January 6, the three officers involved, Richardson, Laurent and then-rookie Keith Dietenhofer were placed on paid administrative leave by Town Manager Bill Manzi. The case, which stunned the town and made local, state and national news cycles for days, has been under joint investigation ever since by both the state Attorney General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Manzi said yesterday, that the Board of Selectmen will meet today to consider how to proceed and determine the fate of all three officers involved.

Taken by a police station camera, the video shows Bergeron, Jr., a Seabrook resident, being held by the arm by Richardson, as he is walked without handcuffs down the corridor, with Laurent on the other side of him. At one point, Richardson throws Bergeron, Jr., against the wall, where he hits his head and falls to the floor. Bergeron,Jr. is hauled to his feet before falling again. Shortly after, Laurent administers pepper spray. At various points, Laurent looks directly at the surveillance camera and smiles. The video has no sound.

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