SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 31, 2012

Judge orders Manchester cop held until trial

BEVERLY — “He’s drunk and he has a gun,” the wife of a Manchester-by-the-Sea police sergeant told a 911 dispatcher in the moments after fleeing her Beverly home late Friday night.

But John “Jay” Swallow’s wife is now refusing to cooperate with prosecutors, telling a Salem District Court judge yesterday that she was invoking her spousal privilege, the right of married couples not to have to testify against each other. Swallow’s attorney said his wife does not want to see her husband locked up.

Despite that, Judge Michael Lauranzano ruled that Swallow, 54, poses too great a danger to both his wife and the public if released. He granted a motion by the district attorney’s office to hold Swallow without bail for up to 90 days or until trial, whichever comes first.

Swallow is facing charges that include domestic assault and battery, assault with a dangerous weapon, and improper storage of firearms, after his wife told police that Swallow had grabbed her and pointed a handgun at her head during an argument.

The gun later went off, moments after Swallow’s wife fled from the home.

Police seized 16 guns from Swallow’s bedroom. They also seized an extensive gun collection in the basement that belongs to an Ipswich man currently serving in Afghanistan.

“This is a very difficult decision,” Lauranzano said. “I’m getting a snapshot of Mr. Swallow’s lowest point in life. I see his three sons here, and I feel horrible. I can’t get around the fact that he took out a gun and grabbed (his wife) and pointed it at her.”

“If he wasn’t a police officer, I wouldn’t be torn this way,” the judge said, suggesting that but for Swallow’s three decades in law enforcement, first in Essex and then, since 1988, in Manchester, he wouldn’t hesitate about holding him in custody.

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