Two Seabrook, New Hampshire officers have been fired following an investigation into a 2009 incident in which they were caught on camera beating up a prisoner.
Officers Adam Laurent and Mark Richardson are without jobs after an investigation determined their aggressiveness against then 19-year-old Michael Bergeron was unwarranted. In the surveillance video, which was only released earlier this year, Officers Laurent and Richardson, along with Officer Keith Dietenhofer, can be seen escorting Bergeron down the hall at the police station when Richardson suddenly shoved him head first into the wall. As Bergeron slumped over onto the ground, Officer Laurent sprayed him with pepper spray.
Following the incident, Richardson was charged with assault, and all three officers were placed on paid leave. Richardson was ultimately suspended without pay once he was officially charged with a crime. Officer Dietenhofer was given a two-day unpaid suspension, and now, Richardson and Laurent have been fired. Additionally, John Wasson, the supervising officer on duty that night, was demoted from lieutenant to patrolman, even though he was not directly involved with the incident itself.
"No chief wants something like this to happen on his watch or any of the discipline that comes down," said Chief Lee Bitomske to WMUR. "We're a family, as everybody knows, and it's tough, but we move ahead."
Joyce Bergeron, Michael’s mother, says the entire situation has been grueling, but they are all glad that justice was finally served.
"It's been hard," Joyce said, adding that her son posted the surveillance video on YouTube out of frustration. "It's just been hard on everybody. A long journey, and now it's over. Actually, Michael did this [posted the video] because he didn't want someone to get hurt. And like he said, he never would've forgiven himself had something really bad happened to somebody, and it ate at him for three years.”
The police department is currently taking a look at revising its current policies and training protocols to avoid situations like this in the future.