NEWBURYPORT — Local police have applied to District Court for disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace charges against a man accused of shouting a racist slur from his car at a Black teenager on State Street, according to the Essex District Attorney's Office.
The application will go before a Newburyport District Court clerk magistrate who will determine whether there is probable cause to charge the man. If the clerk magistrate determines there isn't enough probable cause to sustain the charges, the application will be denied.
Essex DA spokesperson Carrie Kimball said the Newburyport Police Department submitted its reports regarding the July 16 incident to her office earlier this week and it was recommended they seek those charges.
City Marshal Mark Murray said officers responded to an outdoor dispute on State Street. A witness told police a man yelled at a group of teenagers before driving away in his car. The teenagers said the man shouted the N-word at a 14-year-old Black teen from Newburyport.
Police were given cellphone video taken by a witness that shows part of the exchange along with the man’s license plate. Police said they identified the man from that footage.
“The Newburyport Police Department is actively investigating this incident, using all resources at our disposal,” Murray said in a press release. “We do not tolerate acts of racism or bias in our community, and we will pursue this investigation, wherever the facts take us.”
Kimball declined to release the name of the suspect, saying that information remains private unless the person is charged.
Kimball said police departments frequently ask the DA's office for guidance in terms of whether a person's conduct rises to the level that warrant criminal charges.
Adama Berry, the victim's mother, said she was happy police were applying for charges, adding that it was important to get the message out regarding the incident. In terms of the man accused of saying the racist slur against her son, she said she was not looking for harsh punishment.
"All I wanted was to at least give him a warning," Berry said.
Dave Rogers is a reporter with the Daily News of Newburyport, a sister paper of The Salem News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.