Lawrence police officer Kyle Wilcox looks at a bloody shirt belonging to Moises Fernandez, man he was arresting, while testifying in Lawrence District Court yesterday. It is the first time Wilcox has taken a witness stand since brutality allegations against him arose.

LAWRENCE — Police Officer Kyle Wilcox was nearing the end of an afternoon of detailed questions.

Now defense attorney Hank Brennan was asking a straight one. It was one of the few the Lawrence officer would answer without a caveat of “I assume,” “I don’t recall” or “I wasn’t paying attention.”

Brennan wanted to know if Wilcox hit Moises Fernandez with a baton or flashlight, even though Fernandez was already in custody.

Wilcox flashed a smile, tilted his head down and shook it back and forth.

“I didn’t do it,” he said. “Absolutely not.”

Yesterday Wilcox, a three-year veteran of the Lawrence police department, was testifying in Lawrence District Court following Brennan’s motion to suppress a line in Wilcox’s police report that could incriminate Fernandez on assault and resisting arrest charges at trial.

It is the first time Wilcox has taken a witness stand since brutality allegations against him arose and Mayor Michael Sullivan suspended him for 30 days for failing to prevent Fernandez from being harmed while in custody

To help a judge consider the motion, Wilcox had to recount the afternoon of Dec. 22, when he arrested Fernandez following a dispute on Myrtle Street.

Fernandez wanted to evict tenants that day. Wilcox wanted to see eviction papers. The situation escalated. Fernandez was charged with malicious destruction of property, resisting arrest, keeping a disorderly house, and assault and battery on a police officer. His brother, Rubenito Fernandez, was also arrested on similar charges.

Later that day, Moises Fernandez would apologize to Wilcox, saying he was sorry for how he acted and blaming his actions on having a bad day.

Brennan says those statements shouldn’t be presented at trial because Fernandez made them under “physical duress and emotional abuse” because of the beating handed to him by Wilcox.

“He made those statements out of fear,” Brennan said in court.

“When I apologized to him in the hospital, he was looking at me with an evil face,” Fernandez said after yesterday’s court hearing. “When I said that, he was looking at me like he wanted to kill me.”

Worried that a jury may see the apology as an admission of guilt, Brennan filed the motion to suppress the statements.

During testimony, Wilcox often said his memory was unclear or that he simply didn’t remember events, including an entire interview with Lawrence police internal affairs head Sgt. Emil DeFusco Jr. following the alleged brutality.

Wilcox said in court yesterday Moises and Rubenito Fernandez were injured during scuffles on Myrtle Street, as they resisted arrest by Wilcox, who was trying to fight them off.

Brennan, who has audio tapes of internal affairs interviews, wanted to know why Wilcox hadn’t shared those details with DeFusco.

“I don’t recall my conversation that I had with Sgt. DeFusco,” Wilcox said.

Brennan then wanted to know about the point in the day that a handcuffed Rubenito Fernandez turned away from Wilcox in the garage of the Lawrence police station. Wilcox said he then “grabbed him and I swung him and he fell to the ground.”

But from there, the story goes blank.

“You have no memory who picked him up?” Brennan asked.

“I don’t,” Wilcox responded. He said he also doesn’t remember who brought Fernandez from the garage into a holding room. He said it could have been him. It could have been another officer. He told the court he just didn’t know.

“Is there a reason you don’t want to talk about the period of time between when you picked him up and when you went upstairs?” Brennan asked.

That period of time, while the Fernandez brothers were photographed, fingerprinted and placed in cells, is when Moises Fernandez says Wilcox became enraged and hit him on the head with a blunt object, causing injury to his ear and face.

Once inside his cell, a handcuffed Fernandez managed to pull out his cell phone — officers forgot to take it away — and call 911. He was connected to a State Police dispatcher, who then called Lawrence police and said a prisoner was bleeding in his cell.

Wilcox at that point was on his way upstairs to the ground floor of the department, he said in court. A lieutenant coming down the stairs told him about the 911 call and told him to call an ambulance.

Brennan said the Fernandez brothers will file criminal complaints against Wilcox in district court today.

Those complaints will seek charges of assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, threats, intimidating a witness and filing a false police report.

A clerk magistrate will then decide if there is probable cause to charge Wilcox with the crimes. Brennan said the attempt to put criminal charges on Wilcox comes after Mayor Michael Sullivan and Police Chief John Romero’s “denial of the obvious problem of police brutality in Lawrence.”

“They have left both Moises and Rubenito with no other choice but to stand up and protect themselves,” Brennan said.

Romero said the police department would never look the other way when it comes to police abuse.

“That’s not accurate,” Romero said, “and I’m surprised by attorney Brennan’s comments given the fact that the department made numerous attempts through him to have his clients, the Fernandez brothers, participate in the department’s internal investigation.”

“Attorney Brennan was only interested in communicating with us if compensating his client was part of our conversation,” Romero said.

Wilcox’s testimony will continue May 24. Three other officers and both Fernandez brothers are also expected to testify that day.

Sullivan last week suspended Wilcox for 30 days, claiming that Wilcox failed to protect the Fernandez brothers while they were in custody. Wilcox has appealed that decision and a hearing on the matter is expected in early June.

Wilcox is also the subject of a discrimination complaint filed in March with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, a state agency. Carlos Sanabria, a Lawrence resident, claims that Wilcox punched him in the mouth while he was in custody on a disorderly conduct charge last June. The punch broke Sanabria’s jaw, his attorney said.

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