Two state troopers from Massachusetts and New Hampshire have finally been arrested after they brutally and needlessly beat a surrendering 50-year-old man following a car chase in May.
As news crews filmed from helicopters hovering above, Richard Simone exited his truck, kneeled, and lay prone on his stomach on the asphalt — but several officers rushed the man and initiated a savage attack in what appeared to be retaliation for having led them on an hour-long pursuit through the two states.
Now, as New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster announced Tuesday, Joseph Flynn of the Massachusetts State Police and Andrew Monaco of the New Hampshire State Police have been arrested and charged with several counts of simple assault for excessive use of force.
Flynn was charged with two counts of simple assault, while Monaco received three simple assault charges. But, as Foster’s office advised, the Washington Post paraphrased, “because the two troopers were on-duty law enforcement officers during the incident, their charges could see an enhanced penalty.”
On May 11, police in Holden, Massachusetts, attempted to stop Simone’s pickup truck when they discovered an advisory from another department that the man had outstanding warrants for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, larceny, and failure to stop for law enforcement, according to the State Police.
When Simone failed to pull over, Holden Police were joined in their pursuit by Massachusetts state troopers. As Simone crossed into Hudson in neighboring New Hampshire, that state’s police and local forces also joined the pursuit. As The Free Thought Project previously described:
“Simone weaved through traffic — at one point hitting a utility pole — as law enforcement officers from both states repeatedly tried to pull him over without success. At some point during the pursuit, Simone’s gray pickup lost two of its tires; but as sparks flew, he continued driving.”
Around an hour after Massachusetts officers initiated the chase, Simone stopped his vehicle in Nashua, New Hampshire, lowering himself face first onto the asphalt with his arms extended in surrender. But more than half a dozen police from the various departments — apparently enraged over the chase that occasionally reached speeds of 90 mph — descended on the now-prone man, beating him relentlessly as neighbors and children watched in horror.
“He was surrendering, you know, he gave up — but I was like, ‘Oh my god, they’re really attacking him,’” Simone’s stunned sister told 7 News at the time, in a report which has since been removed. “It was very shocking, to say the least. Disturbing to see that and to see when someone willingly gets out of the vehicle, goes to their knees, flat out on their stomach, their hands out — very shocking.”
When the video went viral across social media, the Governor of New Hampshire, Foster, and the Massachusetts State Police announced they would be launching separate, full investigations into the use of what appeared to be excessive force used in the arrest.
Massachusetts State Police said Flynn remains suspended without pay — a disciplinary move that began shortly after the video went public — while internal affairs continues its probe of the incident.
Monaco was similarly relieved of duty without pay after the beating, which director of the New Hampshire State Police Col. Robert L. Quinn described as “disturbing” in May.
“I want to ensure that the public knows that this will be fully investigated and we recognize the importance of the public trust,” Quinn said at the time. “And the unnecessary, unjustified use of force will not be tolerated.”
In a statement shortly after the brutal beating, Massachusetts State Police noted in part, “We have a rigorous policy that governs how and when pursuits may be authorized and what criteria must be met for the pursuit to be allowed to continue.”
Arrests of the two troopers will be welcome news during a time when strain between law enforcement and the public around the country has reached a fever pitch following police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. However, the fact such arrests are a rarity merely highlights frustrations over police brutality and fatal use of force.
Where Simone, a white man, received a brutal beating after a lengthy car chase, Castile, a black man, attempted to comply to the fullest extent of the law — even announcing to the officer shortly before he was repeatedly shot that he had a license to carry a concealed weapon and he would be retrieving his wallet to produce identification.
Civilians of all races have been brutalized and killed by police in record numbers in recent years, with black men disproportionately victims in fatal incidents. Outage and ire over the epidemic of brutality and killing by law enforcement led to several fatal attacks on police, as individuals set their sites on the badge and uniform seemingly able to kill with impunity.
No matter how shamelessly the public dissects victims’ histories following such incidents, the problem doesn’t arise from a violent public — rather, it originates with an increasingly militarized police trained to view civilians as a hostile enemy. And until boot-camp style training is shed in favor of more effective, classroom-style programs — or until police officers are forced to carry their own liability insurance to take the burden of excessive force settlements off the backs of taxpayers — there is a veritable guarantee the escalation of tensions will continue unabated.