AG: Use of force by officers during Nov. Bonfire arrests ‘justified’

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Screen shot from video taken by a patron during an arrest outside Bonfire Country Bar.

CONCORD , NH — Manchester police were justified in using force last November in arresting several people outside Bonfire, a downtown Elm Street bar, according to New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald.

MacDonald said on Wednesday that his office had completed its review of the incident that occurred last Nov. 18. 

He also said that the police department’s review of the incident was “handled appropriately.”

Accusations of police brutality were raised after a video surfaced of the incident.

Senior Assistant Attorney Geoffrey W.R. Ward, chief of the Criminal Justice Bureau, said in a letter to Manchester Police Chief Carlo Capano that he concluded “the officers involved in this incident were justified in their respective uses of force.”

He came to that conclusion after reviewing the case file, officer’s narrative reports, videos obtained of the incident, as well as Response to Resistance Reports completed by responding officers.

Ward also reviewed a memo written  by Lt. Joseph Mucci concerning his administrative review of the incident.

MacDonald said in a news release that no further information regarding this review will be released while legal proceedings stemming from this incident are ongoing. However, once legal proceedings have concluded, his office will issue a final report on its review.

 The incident happened around closing time.  A Bonfire employee flagged down an officer and said a woman kicked out of the bar continued to return even though she was told to leave.

The officer talked with Brandon Bakios, 35, and Katie Lavertue, 32, both of Lowell, Mass. on the sidewalk near the bar. 

When Bakios allegedly repeatedly interfered as the officer tried to obtain Lavertue’s identification, the officer turned his attention to Bakios. 

Bakios was told several times to back away from the area and, when he didn’t, the officer began to arrest Bakios who, according to police,  was arguing with a Bonfire employee and drawing a large crowd.

Bakios allegedly began resisting arrest and he, the officer and the Bonfire employee ended up on the ground.

More officers arrived to help in arresting Bakios  who was zapped with a stun gun.

Police released a mugshot of Bakios which showed injuries to the left side of his face.  He was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Lavertue was arrested for allegedly interfering with Bakios’ arrest.  She was charged with obstructing government administration and criminal trespass. In a social post after the incident, she alleged officers repeated punched Bakios in the head.

Isaiah Kitchen, 33, of Manchester,  was charged with disorderly conduct for refusing to leave the area.  

Police said Daniel Ferrigno, 34, of Haverhill, Mass., also was acting disorderly and refused to leave the area as the other arrests were being made. 

 Officers tried to arrest him and when he didn’t comply, he was “taken to the ground” where an officer “deployed his taser.”  He was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.


Below: Letter issued by Senior Asst. AG Geoffrey Ward