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Friday, April 12, 2013

Jury convicts former Nashua man of misdemeanor charges related to skirmish with police

NASHUA – A jury convicted Michael Gannon of three misdemeanor charges that stemmed from an encounter with police on a downtown street corner.

Gannon, 56, was convicted in Hillsborough County Superior Court of disorderly conduct, simple assault and resisting arrest. The case was an appeal of a January 2012 conviction of those charges by a Nashua district court judge. ...

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NASHUA – A jury convicted Michael Gannon of three misdemeanor charges that stemmed from an encounter with police on a downtown street corner.

Gannon, 56, was convicted in Hillsborough County Superior Court of disorderly conduct, simple assault and resisting arrest. The case was an appeal of a January 2012 conviction of those charges by a Nashua district court judge.

After the verdict was announced, Superior Court Judge Diane Nicolosi imposed a sentence of three days in county jail with a suspended sentence of 60 days, the same sentence that District Court Judge Thomas Bamburger had imposed.

The case hinged on two versions of events that occurred around 6 p.m. on July 1, 2011, at the intersection of Canal and Main streets in a small park across from the Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant. As many as two dozen people were at the popular hangout, which includes a small wall in front of a green and war memorials.

Two passing detectives say Gannon, a former Nashua resident now living in Brookline, was causing a disturbance by walking into the street and swearing loudly. The called in backup and stopped to calm Gannon down, but he persisted, resisted arrest and kneed an patrolmen in the abdomen as police struggled with Gannon on the ground as they attempted to handcuff him.

Police were forced to pepper spray and administer two open-handed “compliance strikes” to Gannon’s ribs to get him to submit to the arrest, according to police testimony.

The general manager of Peddler’s Daughter pub who witnessed the incident from the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot backed up the police officer’s statements.

Gannon and two friends who witnessed the incident testified the detectives instigated the incident by honking a horn a Gannon as they passed and yelling a comment about his son from the window of their unmarked car. They claimed the officers wouldn’t let Gannon walk away from the area and assaulted him when he was on the ground.

“I think the officers all did a very good job and came across as creditable because they were telling the truth,” said Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Kathleen Brown, who prosecuted the case.

Defense attorney Justin Shepherd couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Gannon, an Army veteran who suffers from throat cancer, said he has lost about 70 pounds since the incident. He walks with a cane and appears noticeably weaker than he was following his arrest.

In his testimony, Gannon insisted the police investigated the incident because of a past history between him and his family and Nashua police.

Of the four officers who encountered Gannon that day up until his arrest, only Detective Rob McCloud had known him previously, Gannon said.

Gannon had been arrested in 2007 after his home security camera made video and audio recordings of detectives who came to his Morgan Street residence looking for his teenage son.

Gannon was arrested on felony wiretapping charges after he brought the recordings to the police station to complain that a detective was rude to him. The case drew international ire, especially online, and police later opted to drop the charges. Police also concluded that Gannon’s complaint against the detective was justified.

Gannon videotaped police during the July 1, 2011, incident. A choppy 60 seconds of the tape was shown to the jury. Gannon claimed four minutes of the original recording was missing.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com. Follow Meighan on Twitter @ Telegraph_PatM.