Joseph Freda was fired by the town after being arrested for using excessive force against a suspect.
A former Salem police officer charged with
assaulting a Maine man following a motor vehicle pursuit has waived his
first court appearance.
Joseph Freda, 33, entered a not guilty
plea in 10th Circuit Court to two counts of simple assault by an on-duty
law enforcement officer.
He also passed on having his Feb. 24
arraignment in district court, according to a notice filed by defense
lawyer Donald Blaszka.
Freda faces up to two to five years in
state prison for allegedly striking Thomas Templeton, 39, of York,
Maine, while he was being arrested on Oct. 6.
against Freda are misdemeanors, but carry enhanced penalties because the
alleged assaults happened while he was working as a Salem police
officer, according to court complaints filed by state prosecutors.
Salem Town Manager Keith Hickey terminated Freda from his job on Jan. 21.
affidavit filed by N.H. Attorney General Investigator Richard Tracy
said that at least 12 people were interviewed – including other police
officers and Templeton himself – before an arrest warrant was sought for
The pursuit began about 1:50 a.m. on Oct. 6 when Windham
police Sgt. Bryan Bliss began pursuing a black Jeep Cherokee driven by
Templeton heading southbound on Interstate 93.
Andrew Monaco became the lead vehicle in the pursuit as it neared Exit 2
in Salem. The Jeep was traveling 90 to 100 m.p.h. when it took Exit 1
in Salem and kept driving in the opposite lane of traffic along Veterans
Memorial Parkway, according to court records.
ordered to back down by his supervisor, but the pursuit was then picked
up by Salem police officers as Templeton headed east onto Main Street,
according to Tracy’s affidavit.
Templeton eventually stopped in
the Nissan Car Dealership at 343 Main St. near the Massachusetts state
line and hid in nearby brush. Monaco and Salem police Sgt. Marc Prescott
arrested Templeton without incident, the affidavit said.
had escorted Templeton from the wooded area, but “at some point along
the way” two Salem police officers assumed control of him. Monaco went
on to speak with Prescott and Bliss about charges and the booking
process, when he heard a commotion near his cruiser, Tracy said in the
“Templeton reported that after he was taken into
custody in the rear of the dealership, while handcuffed and being
brought back to the area of the cruisers, he was struck twice on the top
of his head with what he believes to be a flashlight by one of the
officers at the scene,” Tracy said in the affidavit.
assaulted, Templeton said one of the officers continued to taunt him.
While seated on the ground, that officer also stepped on Templeton’s
hand, according to investigators.
Templeton, who was charged
with reckless driving and disobeying a police officer, received five
staples to his head to close his wounds. He remains held at the
Rockingham County jail.
Freda apparently was worried about his
interactions with Templeton the day after the pursuit, according to
court records. Freda approached Monaco, the state trooper, “asking if he
had anything to worry about,” while the two worked a construction
detail along Interstate 93.
"Not wishing to engage Freda in
conversation, Monaco told Freda 'no,'" Tracy wrote. State police
forwarded the matter to the Attorney General's Office on Oct. 22.