SALEM — A troubled Salem man, who prosecutors believe was trying to commit “suicide by cop” in a standoff with police in 2012, was found guilty yesterday of five counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.
Aparicio Smart, 23, of 7 March St., was sentenced to two years of supervised probation, during which he will undergo a mental health evaluation and treatment.
The sentence from Salem District Court Judge Robert Brennan was exactly in between the three years of probation sought by prosecutor Lynsey Legier and the year requested by defense attorney Ray Buso. Prior to trial, Buso rejected an offer from prosecutors to continue the case without a finding.
Legier had argued to jurors that police had no choice but to send a regional SWAT team to the Smart home that morning, after Smart tried first to kill himself with a piece of wire and then fled to another part of the house and barricaded himself in a room with two steak knives.
“The situation they had, that they dealt with ... was an individual, yes, who had just tried to commit suicide, yes, who was suffering from severe depression, but who was not planning to do anything else that day but force the hand of police to shoot him,” argued Legier. “He was driving the bus that day, ladies and gentlemen.”
Defense lawyer Raymond Buso argued that Smart had no intention of hurting anyone. His actions were the product of “his depression, his suicide attempt and his being ‘Tased,’” Buso said.
“Was he really attempting to hurt them? Because that’s what assault is,” he said.
The defense also questioned the credibility of the police officers, whose accounts varied somewhat, and pointed to a video from one of the Tasers that includes about 12 seconds where the lens is obscured by an officer’s glove.
He also challenged the officer who had taken the video, who admitted that he had downloaded it to a Peabody Police Department computer, then wiped off the hard drive when he left that department. The copy shown to the jury was from the officer’s personal computer, where he’d also saved it.
Buso also questioned the motivation of most of the officers who testified to return to the courtroom for closing arguments, suggesting it was because they were afraid of being sued. Legier promptly objected.
“They’re here because they’re victims of a violent attack, a violent assault by Mr. Smart,” Legier countered. “Yes, they have a vested interest. They were almost cut by two large steak knives.”
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.