Methuen Officer on paid leave after video posted

An independent investigator will determine if a Methuen police lieutenant followed department policies and procedures when he pointed a gun at a man with his hands in the air during a traffic stop in March, according to Chief Joseph Solomon. 

METHUEN — City officials say an independent investigator will determine if a police lieutenant followed department policies and procedures when he pointed a gun at a man with his hands in the air during a traffic stop.

The incident, which police Chief Joseph Solomon said happened March 5, was partially recorded on a cellphone by a front-seat passenger.

The 30-second clip was posted on social media Friday, in the midst of national protests regarding police brutality. It was viewed on Facebook and Twitter a combined 19,000 times by Monday evening.

Solomon said the video was first brought to his attention Sunday.

The recording shows an unidentified officer repeating to the man behind the wheel, “don’t move,” while pointing a gun at him.

The driver is holding his hands above the steering wheel, the window open with his palms facing up. He asks several times,“Do you want to put me in cuffs?”

The driver goes on to say, “I’m not even moving.”

Someone in the back seat is heard saying, “Can you guys stop? I really want to go home.”

According to Solomon, “the Methuen Police Department was conducting a saturation patrol of the neighborhood including Center Street after an earlier shooting in the city that was attributed to gang violence.”

He said police were told there may be a retaliatory attack that evening, and during a subsequent patrol, a lieutenant attempted to stop a Mercedes Benz sedan.

Solomon said the driver of the sedan “suddenly went into reverse and began to change directions” when the officer used his blue lights to signal a stop.

“The lieutenant drew his weapon and detained the driver of the vehicle,” Solomon said.

“After initially detaining the driver, other officers arrived on scene and an investigation was launched,” he added. “Officers on scene ultimately de-escalated the situation, and the driver was released without charges.”

Solomon said most of the incident — nearly 26 minutes of video — is captured on an officer’s body camera.

“Not every officer was wearing a body camera, as the gang unit/plainclothes officers do not all wear body cameras,” he said.

The man who first posted the video on Facebook, claiming the driver is his nephew, did not immediately return requests for comment.

Solomon would not name the officer shown on video. A timeline of the investigation was also not announced.

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