, Salem, MA

July 6, 2012

Police: Captain dragged by biker

Salem: Gilligan was overseeing crowd control after the fireworks

The Salem News

---- — The Salem police captain overseeing crowd control at Wednesday night’s fireworks was dragged several feet by a motorcyclist who then engaged in a violent struggle as the officer tried to arrest him, according to police.

Capt. Brian Gilligan was in an unmarked Dodge Charger police car at the corner of Palmer and Congress streets just after 12:30 a.m. when he heard and then saw a motorcycle speed onto Palmer Street, according to the police report. 

Another officer had just put out an alert to be on the lookout for the speeding biker, so Gilligan turned on the police lights inside the cruiser and got out, ordering the biker to stop. 

But Edward Capel, 34, of Burlington did not, police said. 

Now Capel is facing a long list of charges that include attempted murder, assault and battery on a police officer, driving to endanger, resisting arrest, driving after license suspension, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and violating the city’s knife ordinance.

It was one of numerous arrests made during and after fireworks displays in Danvers and Salem over the holiday. 

Most of the arrests were for minor charges, including disorderly conduct, but Capel, who was wearing Hells Angels insignia on his vest, police said, could now face up to 20 years in prison. 

Salem police Lt. Conrad Prosniewski, who asked for $25,000 cash bail on Capel, said that as the biker tried to drive around Gilligan, Gilligan grabbed his vest. 

Capel dragged Gilligan several feet, Prosniewski said, before crashing into a parked car and the police car. Gilligan was thrown to the ground. 

The motorcycle, a 2000 Kawasaki registered to a Palmer Street woman, became wedged between the two cars. 

Capel managed to get the bike upright and then, Prosniewski said, began driving directly at Gilligan, who grabbed Capel and pulled him off the motorcycle. 

The two men continued to wrestle, bouncing off another parked car, before two Sheriff’s Department deputies arrived for backup and got Capel into custody. 

Capel’s vest and helmet were covered with patches and stickers, including ones that said “Hard Knocks” and “I’m the biker your parents warned you about.” 

Police also found a small knife hidden inside his belt buckle. 

Gilligan suffered abrasions and a lower back injury in the scuffle, according to police. 

Prosniewski cited Capel’s long criminal record, which includes seven jail terms, in asking for the high bail. 

William Barabino, who represented Capel yesterday, suggested the incident was nothing more than a difficult arrest of an uncooperative subject, who knew he did not have a valid license. He said it was not an attempted murder. 

And the lawyer said Capel, a father of seven children, didn’t try to use the knife police found on him. 

Judge James Lamothe set bail at $1,500, an amount that Capel, who has a full-time job for a furniture rental company, may be able to afford. 

A probable cause hearing is set for Aug. 1. 

Danvers police on Tuesday and early Wednesday arrested approximately 20 people, Danvers Patrolman Robert Sullivan said. Danvers’ fireworks display was Tuesday night.

Salem police arrested 24 people during and after the fireworks, Lt. Kate Stephens said. 

Tom Dalton contributed to this report.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.