HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini is issuing a zero-tolerance policy for violence against city employees after Haverhill police said a privately contracted plow driver got into a fight with Highway Superintendent Brian Zaniboni this week.
Daniel J. Murray, 57, of Haverhill, was arrested and charged with assault and battery on a person over 60 after police said a verbal argument at the Primrose Street Highway Department yard became physical.
Fiorentini calls the altercation, which left Zaniboni, 65, with shoulder and back injuries, “a horrible incident” and said he hopes Murray serves time if convicted.
“We will never tolerate anyone assaulting our employees. Assuming he’s found guilty, I hope prosecutors recommend he serve time for this,” the mayor said.
According to a police report filed by Officer Richard St. Louis, Murray was upset that he did not receive a call from Zaniboni to plow for the city during this week's storm and went to the DPW just after 1 a.m. Tuesday to speak with Zaniboni about it.
“He (Murray) told Brian he wasn’t a man because he did not make the phone call” to explain the plowing situation, the police report said.
Part of the city’s fleet of 120 plow drivers, Murray is said to have been “counseled” after officials were not satisfied with his performance, according to Fiorentini.
“They weren’t happy with his work. If somebody doesn’t do their job, let them go,” he said.
A female witness to the incident told police she heard a loud argument and saw Murray push Zaniboni to the floor and walk away before leaving the Highway Department yard, according to the police report.
During Zaniboni’s police interview, he said Murray pushed him to the floor after he was asked to leave, the report said. Zaniboni was transported by ambulance to Methuen’s Holy Family Hospital for treatment of back and shoulder injuries, according to the report.
Murray told police that Zaniboni escalated the argument by “getting into his face yelling at him,” leaving Murray no choice but to “push Brian back in self-defense,” according to the report. Murray also told police he believed Zaniboni was faking his injuries, the report said.
In an arraignment before Haverhill District Court Judge Stephen Abany on Tuesday, Murray was released on his own recognizance. His next court appearance will be in January. He has been ordered to stay away from Zaniboni.
Fiorentini said that Department of Public Works Director Michael Stankovich and his deputy Robert Ward are filling in during Zaniboni’s absence.