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Monday, July 18, 2011

Suspects, witness dispute police version of July 1 arrest in Nashua

NASHUA – Maybe Michael Gannon shouldn’t have given lip to two police detectives that afternoon.

But Gannon claims he wouldn’t have said a word on July 1 if a detective – unprovoked, Gannon said – hadn’t shouted something at him as their unmarked police car passed by on Canal Street.

At the time, Gannon said he was standing with his back to traffic in a parking spot commonly used by motorcycles across from the Dunkin’ Donuts near the intersection of Canal and Main streets.

Gannon said he didn’t hear the exact words the Nashua police detective yelled from the passenger window, but he caught the gist.

“They said something about my son only they and I would know,” Gannon said.

Gannon’s teenage son has been in trouble with the law. So has he. It was in this context that Gannon responded as he did, he said.

“There goes corruption at its finest,” Gannon, 55, of 24 Temple St., admits he yelled back at the passing police detectives.

That precipitated a chain of events in which Gannon was tackled, maced, handcuffed and then punched and kicked by two police detectives as he lay on the ground, according to Gannon and two witnesses, Pamela Reynolds, who was also arrested, and her boyfriend, Brian Raymond.

All three say Gannon didn’t resist arrest, only turned his back and began to walk away from the detectives after being told he wasn’t under arrest.

“I didn’t have time to resist,” Gannon said.

The two detectives were on him immediately, he said.

He and the other two witnesses said police overreacted to his wisecrack.

“I blew his ego with that comment. By all means, that detective was unglued,” Gannon said.

It also probably didn’t help Gannon’s cause that he told police he was videotaping the incident with a small Kodak mini camcorder. Videotaping police got Gannon arrested before.

Gannon said he doesn’t know the detectives’ names, but he recognized their faces through his past dealings with police.

The Nashua Police Department’s version of what happened about 5 p.m. July 1 differs markedly.

“Mr. Gannon was yelling and swearing and was warned repeatedly to cease that behavior,” Detective Lt. Frank Sullivan said.

The detectives “observed Mr. Gannon’s behavior and addressed Mr. Gannon’s behavior,” Sullivan said.

“They tried to reason with Mr. Gannon,” Sullivan said.

When Gannon didn’t desist, the officers placed him under arrest – “and he did resist an arrest,” Sullivan said.

According to information police released after the incident, Gannon was recording police. When he was told he was under arrest, Gannon handed his video camera to Pamela Reynolds, 44, of 76 Spit Brook Road, Nashua.

Officers demanded Reynolds give them the camera as evidence, but she fled and tried to hide the camera in some bushes, police said. She also struggled with officers when they caught up with her, police said.

Reynolds disputes the police account.

She said she was in the green area across from Dunkin’ Donuts walking her dog. Gannon, who was walking his own dog, showed up and they began chatting.

As Gannon was being tackled by police, he tossed the camcorder to her, which she immediately threw into nearby pushes, she said, because she didn’t want anything to do with device or with the incident.

Instead, she found herself arrested and maced, Reynolds said.

Her boyfriend, Brian Raymond, was with her.

“She did absolutely nothing but be at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Raymond said. “The whole thing was not fair. It wasn’t right.”

Raymond also said Gannon was trying to walk away and end the confrontation before he was arrested, but the detectives “wouldn’t let him. They blocked his path,” Raymond said.

Raymond acknowledged that Gannon’s wisecrack to the passing police car was probably “not the right thing to have done. I wouldn’t have done it. But it’s not against the law.”

Gannon was charged with resisting arrest, simple assault on a police officer and disorderly conduct.

Reynolds was charged with falsifying physical evidence and resisting arrest, police said.

Police are applying for a search warrant to look at the footage on the video camera, which police seized, Sullivan said.

In 2006, 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 attention, especially online, and police later opted to drop the charges. Police also concluded that Gannon’s complaint against the detective was justified.

It is illegal to videotape a conversation without the person’s permission. However, Gannon believes he has a right to record in a public place.

Undeterred by the events, Gannon still carries a camcorder – the exact same type as the one police seized.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com.