Massachusetts police confiscate cell phone of witness, destroy evidence of alleged police brutality

By End the Lie

Michael Ververis (Image credit: JusticeForMichael.org)

A troubling case, in a long line of cases of Americans being targeted for exercising their Constitutional right to film on-duty police conducting their public duties, emerged in January of last year involving Springfield, Massachusetts police and a young man named Michael Ververis.

This is one of many incidents where the police harass or even brutally assault people for filming them, for just a sampling of the many examples see here, here, here, here and here.

According to an advocacy site for Ververis (which has videos of the incident), he was on his way home from a bar with his two friends when they encountered police in heavy traffic.

The police officer allegedly told them to “get the f**k out of here!” after which, Ververis said they could not due to the congested traffic. The officer reportedly responded by continuing to yell, “Move the car!”

The driver then made a right hand turn at the earliest opportunity at which time the police officer allegedly broke their taillight with either his baton or flashlight.

When the driver got out of his car to inspect the damage, the officers continued to yell obscenities and told him to get back into the car.

After returning to the vehicle, the driver requested that the officers provide their badge numbers.

The officers allegedly responded to this by punching both the driver and Ververis in the face, head and chest.

It gets even worse with Ververis allegedly being dragged from the car by four officers while continuing to be assaulted with punches and kicks.

He was then allegedly thrown against a parked car, choked until he was unconscious and then while still unconscious, the police allegedly shook him violently and dragged him through the snow by his collar after which point he was kicked twice by one of the officers and then flung to the ground.

The driver was pulled from the car but was placed in a prone position on the ground and later allowed to return home.

Ververis, on the other hand, was arrested and charged with three misdemeanors and one felony, which could mean up to seven and a half years in prison if convicted.

The abuse Ververis was subjected to allegedly did not end there, when at the police station his handcuffs were tightened after he begged an officer to loosen them several times.

The legal representation for Ververis has filed a Motion to Dismiss on the grounds that the Springfield police officers destroyed evidence in order to support their story, which Ververis alleges is fabricated.

Two individuals who filmed the incident seemed taken aback by what they saw and accused the officers of police brutality.

A third witness who happened to catch the incident on video had her phone confiscated by police and held for three months, after which time she realized that they had deleted the footage.

Springfield District Court Judge William P. Hadley said the way that the cell phone was handled “is extremely troubling,” according to MassLive.

The police say that 24-year-old Ververis tried to steal one of the officer’s weapons as they pulled him from the car, while the defense maintains that they used excessive force during the course of the arrest then after the fact created the assault and attempted larceny of a firearm charges to cover up their abuse.

Currently Ververis is facing charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, assault and battery on a police officer and attempted larceny of a firearm.

After two days of testimony, on February 28 Judge Hadley gave both legal teams until March 7 to file their final briefs before he made a decision.

I have been unable to determine what, if any, decision has been made since this time.

The attorney for Ververis, Luke Ryan, said of the events that led to the cell phone video being lost as evidence (which could have cleared Ververis of the charges), “If this isn’t bad faith, then its monumental incompetence.”

Ryan urged the judge to dismiss the case against Ververis and “send a message that this is not acceptable.”

In an attempt to refute these statements, Assistant District Attorney Max Bennett said that there I no proof that the video existed in the first place nor is there proof that the video would have shed any light on the arrest.

“Instead of solid evidence, we have wishful thinking,” Bennett stated, pointing out that 38-year-old Raquel Perosa who allegedly shot the video admitted that she never actually saw the officer kicking the defendant after he supposedly attempted to steal his firearm.

The video “could just be a fingerprint on a lens,” according to Bennett.

However, Perosa testified that another officer took her phone away the moment that he noticed that she was filming the arrest.

“I told him if he wanted to erase it, erase it, but I wanted my phone back,” Perosa said, speaking through an interpreter.

When questioned by Bennett, she said that she could not be sure the video was saved before she handed her phone over to the officer.

That being said, an expert witness for the defense testified that the type of phone Perosa had would likely automatically save the video.

Another problem with Bennett’s claims is that in previous testimony Patrolmen Christopher Collins recalled seeing the women using a cell phone to apparently film the arrest, saying, “I said: Did you record it? She said: Yeah, from start to finish.”

Collins also admitted when questioned by Ryan that he did not get a warrant to search or seize the cell phone and claimed that when he was questioned several months after the incident about the cell phone by the Springfield Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit he claimed, “I assumed they knew about it.”

The most glaring issue I see in this case is that the police have acknowledged that they never even brought up the confiscation of the cell phone (and the video which was likely on it) in the police report.

“In retrospect, I wish I had,” Sgt. Steven Kent said during a pre-trial hearing, according to MassLive.

When Ryan asked if it was a mistake, Kent claimed, “It was an oversight.”

Police claim that leading up to the incident, Ververis was yelling out of the window of the car he was in, allegedly trying to incite a fight between two groups of individuals on the sidewalk.

Police also allege that he refused to move after being ordered to and then spat on the officers as they approached him before attempting to steal one of their guns.

However, as Carlos Miller points out, this isn’t the first time that the Springfield Police Department has been in hot water (see here and here), so their word is not quite as trustworthy as one might hope.

It’s quite sad that in the United States this is such a common occurrence, as one would assume this might go in an openly oppressive society but in an ostensibly free nation it is still shocking to see incidents like this.

Then again, when police can murder tourists and get away with it, beat old men with dementia and get nothing more than a written reprimand for turning off their recording equipment and children are increasingly criminalized in our schools, I guess it is just to be expected.

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6 Responses to Massachusetts police confiscate cell phone of witness, destroy evidence of alleged police brutality

  1. Anonymous March 10, 2012 at 1:45 AM

    Collington’s testimony proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the police are the guilty ones here. Justice for Michael!

    Reply
  2. Anonymous March 12, 2012 at 5:30 AM

    We can see that it is more than likely that there are many such incidents that have been covered up since the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.

    We can see why the America Government does not like Bradley Manning, and so it is no surprise that they Hate Julian Assange who is just a Journalist who Publishes News Stories that are the Truth.

    I do not want to comment on this particular case, but we know there are different forms of censorship for the unprofessional behaviour of those in Authority in America.

    We know that if more accountability were there, then it would mean that there was more competency and greater accountability that would lead to greater professionalism, and lower taxes because Police Would just go after the Criminals instead of Harassing the Innocent.

    We saw this with Rodney King, and the damage that was caused by the subsequent riots, where People want Justice from their Police.

    There are People who think that France may censor the Internet, and I explain this in the rest of the comment.

    We know that there is will a Presidential Election in France soon, and that the French People value their Honour.

    We know that President Nicolas Sarkozy has made his handling of the Euro Zone problem his main theme for re-election, and it looks like the Euro Zone Debt Crisis has been handled competently and in a fair manner.

    We see that President Sarkozy is trailing in the Opinion Polls against his Presidential Rival, and this is why President Sarkozy is considering the that France should leave the Schengen Agreement unless action is taken to reduce the number of illegal immigrants, and Kosovo Albanians do not Acknowledge that they are Serbian Citizens, but that they are foreigners.

    This is sure to be popular with many French Voters, because France has unemployment, and a Country should take care of People who Acknowledge that they are French Citizens, and have the Papers to prove it, before they can provide jobs for foreigners.

    We know that Angela Merkel said that she would do everything to help President Sarkozy win the next French Presidential Election.

    This is because the next five years are crucial for the Franco-German plans for Europe, and President Sarkozy’s rival is not considered to be beneficial for German interests, even though he has the same immigration policies as President Sarkozy.

    There was a time when Tito was Neutral and People said that he played both the East and the West for Yugoslavia’s benefit; whereas, I think that he was just a Western Puppet who worked against the Legitimate Interests of the Serbian People.

    Tadic and Company are the successors of Tito, and if there is an East and West, then it could be very loosely defined as be the Anglo-American Non-Euro Zone Countries in the European Union, and the Franco-German Euro Zone Countries in the European Union.

    I think that Serbia should remain Neutral if there is such and East and West in among the European Union, and Tito did fool the Soviet Union as to his Neutrality.

    We know that the French Presidential Elections are scheduled for 22 April 2012, and a second round of Voting is scheduled for 6 May 2012 if it becomes necessary.

    There have been suggestion that the Serbian Election be held on either 22 April 2012, and the other date on B 92 is 6 May 2012.

    I think that Serbia should not have their Elections on these dates, even if France or Germany withdraw their Vile , Filthy, and Criminal support for the unilateral declaration of independence by the Leaders of the Albanians in Serbia’s Province of Kosovo.

    There could People who think that the British or someone anonymous else has made a Documentary in the French Language to prove to the French Voters that President Sarkozy has Dishonoured the French People by trying to steal the Serbian land of Kosovo.

    The French People are not Thieves, and when they see that Video on the Internet, they will not be impressed with President Sarkozy.

    If President Sarkozy tries to censor that Video just before the Elections, then he will lose a lot of Votes.

    The Good, Proper, and Acceptable thing for France to do is to withdraw its Vile, Filthy, and Criminal support for the unilateral declaration of independence by the Leaders of the Albanians in Serbia’s Province of Kosovo.

    Reply
  3. fuck the police March 23, 2012 at 4:25 AM

    This is the definition of a police state.

    Reply
  4. Prashanth Rajendran February 7, 2013 at 6:16 AM

    I am finding two contradicting things.

    Police told that Michael Ververis refused to move, but he can’t due to jam-packed traffic.

    Reply
  5. Brad August 2, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    You can’t stop them from confiscating your phone but you can control what’s on it.

    Reply
  6. Terry Wagar April 14, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    Portland police and Multnomah county sheriff’s womanize with other people’s wives and grant them permisseion to poison off husbands for l8fe insurance money’s and police/sheriff’s pedofy the victim publicly with false pedophile accusations so no one will care if the vi8ctim is murdered! They use these tactics over and over again, debilitated their victim and publicly destroy their victims name and reputation so no one cares and they even laugh and brag about it to their buddy’s and girlfriends at Clackamas Walmart! They use their influence with doctors to coerce them into NOT taking toxicology tests to cover up!

    Reply

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