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Nashua;57.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/ra.png;2014-10-01 14:16:26
Thursday, August 7, 2014

Nashua officer at fault in Sunday’s Main Street crash

NASHUA – The same officer who shot a Nashua man earlier this year was involved in a two-car crash on Main Street over the weekend.

Nashua Police Chief John Seusing said officer Stephen Morrill was driving a police cruiser that collided with a Subaru Outback near the intersection of Main, Park and Water streets Sunday afternoon. No one was seriously injured in the crash, and police have determined that Morrill was at fault for the accident. ...

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NASHUA – The same officer who shot a Nashua man earlier this year was involved in a two-car crash on Main Street over the weekend.

Nashua Police Chief John Seusing said officer Stephen Morrill was driving a police cruiser that collided with a Subaru Outback near the intersection of Main, Park and Water streets Sunday afternoon. No one was seriously injured in the crash, and police have determined that Morrill was at fault for the accident.

Morrill was responding to an emergency and driving north on Main Street with his cruiser’s lights and sirens on when he collided with the Outback, which had a green light and was turning left from Park Street to head south, according to Nashua police Lt. E. Paulson.

The crash caused significant damage to the front passenger side of the cruiser, a Ford Taurus, and the front of the Subaru. The Subaru was spun from the force of the collision and came to rest pointing north toward the Ameriprise Financial branch on the corner of Park Street with its front tires on the sidewalk. The cruiser ended up on the other side of the intersection pointing down Water Street, according to photos posted on Facebook.

Both vehicles were towed from the scene, Paulson said.

An ambulance was called to the scene, but Morrill and the other driver were medically cleared and no one was transported to the hospital, Paulson said.

Despite having his lights and sirens on, the officer should have yielded to the traffic in the intersection and therefore was deemed to be at fault for the crash, he said.

“We do a lot of driving here at the police department, and we don’t like accidents to happen,” Paulson said. “We know they happen, so we’ll look to make sure (if) there’s anything we can do to curb the behavior or additional precautions, we’ll look at.”

Morrill was cleared by a state attorney general investigation into a March 22 officer-involved shooting at the Knightsbridge Arms condominium complex. He returned to work in April after that investigation, and the internal Nashua police review determined that he used an appropriate level of force when he shot Craig Riley, 41, twice as Riley was swinging Morrill’s police baton at him.

Riley is charged with several felonies, and his case is before a Hillsborough County Superior Court judge.

Seusing said department policy calls for supervisors to determine whether officers involved in at-fault accidents need additional training or other steps. He said it’s simply a coincidence that Morrill happened to be involved in the two high-profile incidents this year.

“Other than it’s the same officer, the two incidents are completely separate, obviously,” Seusing said. “Officer Morrill and the rest of the officers spend a good part of their careers in a car. That’s part of the job. Unfortunately, accidents occur, especially when you drive for a living. The odds are at some point in your career, something like this can happen.”

Another cruiser accident in which an officer was found to be at fault happened almost exactly a year ago.

Seusing said officer Kevin Pucillo drove the wrong way down Joffre Street, a one-way street, on Aug. 5, 2013, and was struck by a pickup truck. Pucillo was responding to an emergency in the city’s South End but didn’t have his lights and sirens on, Seusing said. The vehicles collided as he crossed Kinsley Street from Euclid Avenue.

Pucillo and a passenger in the truck suffered minor injures.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).