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Local News

January 21, 2014

Seabrook to investigate brutality incident shown on video

SEABROOK, N.H. — In addition to criminal investigations launched by the state attorney general, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire and the FBI, the Seabrook Police Department will soon begin its own investigation into an alleged 2009 police brutality incident depicted on a recently released video.

The announcement of the department’s internal investigation was made yesterday by Seabrook police Chief Lee Bitomske in response to inquiries made by The Daily News at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting. Bitomske said after the meeting that police Deputy Chief Michael Gallagher, who is also the internal affairs officer, will undertake the investigation.

“Deputy Chief Gallager will undertake an investigation to see if any of the department’s (internal) policies, rules and regulations were broken,” Bitomske said. “The findings will be brought to me. My department is also cooperating fully with the attorney general’s investigation.”

Bitomske said he could not comment further given the ongoing investigations being conducted by other agencies. He asked residents to be patient as all involved parties work to get to the bottom of the incident that has outraged many and become a black mark against the Seabrook Police Department.

Since early January, town officials have dealt with the repercussions from a YouTube video posted on the Internet that shows one of three patrolmen, officer Mark Richardson, slamming a young man’s head against a cement wall while inside Seabrook’s police station.

The video was taped on Nov. 11, 2009, by a monitoring camera within the police station’s cellblock. It depicted Michael J. Bergeron Jr., 19 at the time, being led down a hall by Richardson, while officers Adam Laurent and Keith Dietenhofer walk alongside. Bergeron, a Seabrook resident, had been arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and drug possession.

Not handcuffed, one of Bergeron’s arms is held by Richardson, who then throws the detainee against the wall. Bergeron hits his head and falls to the floor. Bergeron is hauled to his feet before falling again. Shortly after, Laurent administers what appears to be pepper spray. At various points, Laurent looks directly at the surveillance camera and smiles. The video has no audio.

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