Manchester cop, working security detail for DeSantis, disciplined for tossing Red Bull can that struck protester

Sign Up For Our FREE Daily eNews!

Screenshot 2023 10 30 at 6.55.22 PM
Rod Webber as seen in a video he recorded after he says he was hit in the face with a Red Bull can tossed from a police vehicle on detail at a Ron DeSantis event in Manchester. Screenshot

MANCHESTER, NH – A Manchester police sergeant was barred for six months from working VIP security details following an April incident in which a Gov. Ron DeSantis protester was hit in the face with a Red Bull can tossed from a Manchester Police Department SUV providing security for the Florida governor.

Sgt. Mark Harrington, a 16-year-member of the Manchester Police Department, was charged with conduct unbecoming a police officer and neglect of duty.

“I’m surprised anything happened at all but I don’t think they moved the dial even one percent toward justice,” said Rod Webber of the Brighton section of Boston, the protester. “Justice would be him losing his job.”

Webber is known as a political activist, documentary filmmaker and provocateur who makes his voice heard on the presidential campaign trail. Manchester police also know him because he sued them in connection with a 2015 incident at the No Labels convention held at the then-Radisson hotel.

He alleged a police officer and Donald Trump’s security team roughed him up and slammed his head into a table.

Screen Shot 2015 10 12 at 8.38.30 PM

RELATED STORY ⇒Flower power thwarted by Trump handlers after ‘Flower Guy’ arrested

Webber didn’t suffer an injury when he was hit in the face with the partially filled Red Bull can on April 14, 2023, outside the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, 700 Elm St.

Lt. Jared Yaris conducted the internal investigation, a copy of which was obtained by Manchester Ink Link through a Right-to-Know request. (See below)

He found that Harrington was justified in using “soft empty-handed control techniques” – tossing the can at Webber – was OK as a way to put distance between him and Webber and maintain the safety of the motorcade. Harrington was exonerated of using unnecessary force.

Chief Allen Aldenberg explained that the conduct unbecoming charge against Harrington “stems from the fact that he was acting as a SWAT element leader at the time of the incident, acting to protect a U.S. Presidential candidate, yet he was holding garbage from his meal break in his hand. When he had to deal with an unexpected threat, Sgt. Harrington was holding garbage in the hand that he needed to use. Neglect of Duty stems from the fact that Sgt. Harrington failed to properly document the incident with the requisite reports. He received written reprimands (two in total – one for each charge) and a six-month suspension from working VIP/dignitary motorcade.

“The fact they reprimanded him for the opposite thing for what he should have been disciplined, the irony is just too perfect,” Webber said, adding he was being sarcastic.

Police did not arrest Webber, who they said could have been charged with being a pedestrian in the roadway and disorderly conduct.

Webber filed a complaint with police on the night of April 14, 2023. He said he came to Manchester to cover the DeSantis event but was barred from covering it because he wasn’t pre-registered.

He remained outside on Pleasant Street, chanting “Rapists for Ron,” and filming the DeSantis motorcade as it left the event. He contended a vehicle in the motorcade swerved toward him, then someone within the SUV hit him with a beverage and yelled, “Get out of the road.” Initially, Webber thought it was a member of DeSantis’ campaign staff who hit him with the can.

After Webber filed the initial report with police, he returned to the police station later that same night with a crushed can of Red Bull in a plastic baggie, which he said he found near where the incident took place. He also provided police with a video of the incident taken on his cell phone.

Yaris reviewed the footage which, he said in his report, disputes Webber’s version of the event. Yaris said the video shows Webber in the street moving toward the Manchester Police Ford Expedition and the vehicle swerving to avoid hitting him.

Webber is heard saying, “Hey… buddy…the fuck.”

Harrington, when interviewed by Yaris, admitted to holding a Red Bull can in a plastic bag as he sat in the front passenger seat of the Ford Expedition in the motorcade. He told Yaris Webber was holding a phone and at one point it appeared he might open a door to the SUV.

Harrington said he reacted to Webber’s approach to the SUV, leaning to his left and putting his right hand holding the can of Red Bull up and out the window. He couldn’t recall if the can was thrown or if the “speed of his reaction which caused the can to leave his hand.”

“It’s a joke,” said Webber, who was uninjured in the incident. “Just like back in 2015 was a joke.”

unnamed 5
Rod Webber holds a copy of a $20,000 check he got after filing suit against the Trump campaign for a 2015 incident at a Manchester political event. Courtesy Photo

On Oct. 12, 2015, two members of Donald J. Trump’s security team and Manchester police Officer James Pittman, who was in uniform working security, removed Webber from the No Labels Problem Solvers event held at the same hotel, then known as the Radisson.

At the time, Webber was known as the guy on campaign trails handing out flowers to candidates and advocating for peace. At the No Labels convention, Donald Trump was on the podium and Webber asked him a question. He said he was told to head down to the front where there was a microphone but when he approached it, he was met by Trump’s security detail and Pittman, and led out of the event.

He alleged that they roughed him up and slammed his head against a table.

Aldenberg was also on the scene of the event. Webber said Aldenbeerg walked him outside, told him to wait while he talked to the officer and the others. When Aldenberg returned, Webber was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

The charges were later dropped and Webber filed suit against Trump and Manchester police.

That lawsuit was later settled with the city paying Webber $15,000 – and the Donald J. Trump campaign paying him $20,000. Neither admitted any fault.

Aldenberg said he has full confidence in the internal investigation of Harrington who he said was appropriately disciplined.

“I had and still do have full faith in the abilities of Sgt. Harrington and I am confident that he has learned from this incident and I have no doubt that this behavior will not be repeated,” he said.

Webber said even if he were in the middle of the street or if he were the worst person in the world “it doesn’t justify a member of the police force assaulting someone. It’s beyond the pale.”

The thin blue line, he said, “is a real thing. They will cover up for their own.”

Yaris said in the report that Harrington is held in high regard among his teammates.

“Unfortunately, with the amount of experience Sgt. Harrington has comes the opportunity for complacency to rear it’s (cq) head,” Although out of character for Sgt. Harrington it is my best assessment that on this evening this is what occurred. Having the Red Bull can and sandwich bag in his hand placed him at a disadvantage to properly react to Mr. W’s actions. As a result, the Red Bull can is discarded out the window toward Mr. W. Given the facts, circumstances in their totality, combine with Mr. W’s intent being unknown, Sgt. Harrington is justified in Soft empty-handed control techniques to create space between Mr. W and to ensure the safety of the motorcade. Despite being justified in his reaction, it is without question Sgt. Harrington’s actions reflect poorly on himself and the agency. The overall optics of Sgt. Harrington’s complacency which led to him discarding the Red Bull can ultimately brings the department into disrepute as well as discredit upon Sgt. Harrington. It is for these reasons I find the charge of Conduct Unbecoming an Officer sustained and the charge of ‘Unneccesary Force’ exonerated.”

A redacted copy of the internal police investigation is below:

About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.