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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gannon case testimony: Arrest of man causing disturbance, or skirmish started by a Nashua detective

NASHUA – Maybe Michael Gannon created a disturbance by standing in traffic near the intersection of Canal and Main streets, swearing profusely and loudly, and attracting the attention of two passing plainclothes detectives who had no choice but to stop and arrest him.

Or maybe Gannon was minding his own business in the late afternoon of July 1, 2011, when the passing detectives honked a horn and taunted Gannon, whom police knew because of past dealings with him and his family. The detectives’ taunts precipitated in Gannon’s arrest in which he was forced to the ground, pepper-sprayed, handcuffed and, he claims, kicked and punched by police. ...

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NASHUA – Maybe Michael Gannon created a disturbance by standing in traffic near the intersection of Canal and Main streets, swearing profusely and loudly, and attracting the attention of two passing plainclothes detectives who had no choice but to stop and arrest him.

Or maybe Gannon was minding his own business in the late afternoon of July 1, 2011, when the passing detectives honked a horn and taunted Gannon, whom police knew because of past dealings with him and his family. The detectives’ taunts precipitated in Gannon’s arrest in which he was forced to the ground, pepper-sprayed, handcuffed and, he claims, kicked and punched by police.

A jury of seven men and five women on Wednesday afternoon began deliberating which version to believe, along with other evidence, in the trial of Gannon, 56, a former Nashua resident, who is appealing three misdemeanor convictions related to the incident.

The jury deliberated for half an hour before breaking for the day. Deliberations are scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Gannon, now a Brookline resident, was convicted by a Nashua district court judge in January 2012 of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and simple assault for kneeing a patrol officer in the abdomen. He received a sentence of a weekend in jail, a suspended 60-day sentence and probation.

His appeal is being heard in Hillsborough County Superior Court.

“This case is an example of police doing their job,” Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Kathleen Brown said.

The passing detectives, who were in the burglary investigation unit, stopped to keep the peace when they saw Gannon creating a disturbance, Brown said.

Defense attorney Justin Shepherd said, “This was not their finest hour,” about the Nashua police involved.

The situation began with a detective “trying to pick a fight” by blocking Gannon’s path when he tried to walk away with his 11-year-old Siberian husky named Seamus, according to the defense.

Detective Dan Archambault, in the front passenger seat of the unmarked car, was angered when Gannon yelled “There goes corruption at its finest.”

Archambault yelled, “What did you say?”

“You heard me,” Gannon responded, and then repeated the comment.

Witnesses for both sides agreed about that exchange. Archambault testified that Gannon then said, “Stick your head back in that (expletive) car.”

Archamabault said he exited the car at that point because Gannon was swearing so much and so loudly he was creating a disturbance in a public area, the small park on Canal Street across from Dunkin’ Donuts.

“I did not want to get out of my car. We average about 30 burglaries a month. This was the last thing I wanted to deal with,” Archambault testified.

Because a burglary unit detective is still a police officer, Archambault said he had to do his duty to keep the peace and respond to the “spectacle” Gannon was creating.

Police are often subject to verbal abuse and have to let it roll off them, Archambault testified. He wasn’t angered by the remarks, but had to leave the car to warn Gannon to stop blocking traffic and causing a disturbance by swearing loudly in a public area, Archambault testified.

Archambault’s partner, Detective Rob McCloud, backed up his story. Two patrol officers called in as backup testified they didn’t see how the incident began, but Gannon twisted and locked his arms in front of him when they tried to cuff him.

Christopher Caron, who was a bike patrol officer at the time, said he was directed by Archambault to arrest Gannon.

Gannon resisted, even after being pepper-sprayed, Caron testified.

Officer Guido Marchionda testified he gave Gannon “two compliance strikes.” Those involved striking Gannon in the ribs with the heel of his hand in order to dissuade him from continuing to struggle, Marchionda testified.

Marchiando was the officer kneed by Gannon, according to testimony.

Thomas Duggen, a general manager at the Peddler’s Daughter, who was in the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot, also appeared as a witness for the prosecution.

Duggen testified that he saw Gannon blocking traffic and heard him swearing before the detectives passed by.

Shepherd made the argument that the Peddler’s Daughter is a popular hangout for off-duty Nashua police officers.

Two of Gannon’s friends, Pam Reynolds and her boyfriend, Brian Raymond, testified in his defense. Both witnessed the incident and testified it was initiated by Archambault.

Reynolds testified that she saw Archambault kicking and punching Gannon while he was handcuffed on the ground.

A one-minute videotape Gannon recorded of the incident was shown to the jury. Gannon testified that he suspected he shot about five minutes of video, most of which is now missing.

Gannon and his family have a contentious relationship with Nashua police, according to testimony.

He was 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.

Police later returned Gannon’s cameras and recording equipment, though he said the wiring was damaged when police pulled them from the mounts. Police refused to give back Gannon’s tapes, however, saying they were illegal recordings, and thus contraband.

Subsequent court rulings have held that it’s legal to videotape police in public places.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Meighan on Twitter (@Telegraph_PatM).