SOMERVILLE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A Somerville police officer has been placed on unpaid leave and is facing a felony charge for allegedly pepper spraying a suspect who was already in custody.
After an investigation by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and Somerville Police, a criminal complaint was issued by the Somerville District Court for one charge of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon against Somerville Police Officer Michael McGrath, who is the head of the Somerville police union.
According to the Middlesex DA's Office, the criminal complaint follows an incident on October 1st 2019, in which McGrath allegedly deployed pepper spray on an individual who was in custody and who allegedly posed no threat to the officer.
"Within hours of learning about the alleged incident, the involved officer was put on paid administrative leave and his police powers were suspended," a spokesperson for the City said. "In light of the felony charge, the City converted his status to an unpaid administrative leave."
Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone said in response to a public information request, video of the alleged incident has been released in the interest of transparency.
"Let me be perfectly clear, the City of Somerville and the Somerville Police Department do not and will not tolerate any unnecessary use of force," Curtatone said. "Our officers are entrusted with tremendous responsibilities, and our residents must be confident that every officer will perform those duties to the highest standards, using force only when necessary and according to Departmental training, policy, and the law. We referred this matter to the District Attorney, and we will continue to fully cooperate with that office."
McGrath is scheduled to be arraigned November 13, 2020.
(Photo: Getty Images)