The State Police internal affairs unit has completed its investigation of a trooper accused of assaulting three US Air Force members in November on Nantucket, where all four men were supporting Vice President Joseph Biden’s security detail, a spokesman said.
David Procopio, a State Police spokesman, said Sunday that investigators recently finished interviewing witnesses to the alleged assaults involving Trooper Eric Gahagan, a bomb squad technician, and the agency probably will release its findings within two weeks.
The airmen, Michael Valeich, John Tran, and Lucas Wiemer, told police that Gahagan and Secret Service Agent Jonathan Dawes attacked Valeich and Wiemer just after midnight on Thanksgiving morning in the Rose & Crown nightclub, after Gahagan accused them of taking photos of him dancing with female Secret Service agent Yumi Kim.
The airmen denied taking the pictures, according to a police report, and the bouncer escorted Gahagan and Dawes from the club. However, they encountered the airmen later on the street and allegedly continued punching them during scuffles, causing visible damage to Valeich and Wiemer, police said.
Procopio said State Police officials are now examining the evidence gathered during the investigation to determine whether Gahagan has violated department rules and if so, what punishment he will face.
Potential sanctions include a letter of reprimand, suspension, or termination, Procopio said. He declined to comment when asked if State Police have ever disciplined Gahagan.
The trooper could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
He was one of the State Police bomb technicians routinely assigned to Biden’s security detail, Procopio said.
Nantucket police Lieutenant Jerry Adams, a department spokesman, said authorities did not charge Gahagan and Dawes, because the airmen who initially reported the matter declined to press charges.
Max Milien, a Secret Service spokesman, said on Sunday that “as in all matters of alleged employee misconduct, the appropriate follow-up was conducted” soon after the incident occurred. He would not discuss the Secret Service’s response or say if Dawes was punished in any way.
Milien said that everyone involved in the incident was supporting Biden’s security detail but not assigned to it. He would not elaborate.
In a statement, the Air Force’s 621st Contingency Response Wing, based in New Jersey, where the airmen are assigned, said they were providing “air mobility logistics” for Biden’s support team. That includes assistance in refueling and transferring equipment, according to the wing’s website.
The airmen were immediately replaced on Nantucket after the incident, the statement said, but the Air Force took no disciplinary action against them.
Tran told police he sipped one drink during the night in question, while Wiemer and Valeich said they had about five and seven beers, respectively, according to the report. Kim told police that she had a tequila shot and two beers.
The report does not indicate whether Gahagan and Dawes had been drinking.
Valeich told police that earlier in the evening of the alleged assaults, Gahagan broke a hockey stick inside the Rose & Crown, after he and another trooper lost a “chair hockey” contest, prompting Valeich and other patrons to boo Gahagan.
The airmen told police that the trooper later pointed his finger in each of their faces and said, “I don’t like you, you, you,” and “I’ll kick all three of your asses.”
Kim told police that at one point outside the club, Valeich and Gahagan were pushing each other, and that Valeich punched her when she jumped in, which Valeich denied in a separate interview, the report states.
The club’s bouncer, Mendel Harris, told police that while the parties were inside the club, he grabbed Gahagan from behind, limiting him to throwing little punches at Valeich, who was seated in a booth, according to the police report.
Harris said Gahagan turned to him and shouted, “Do you know who I am? Let me go!” the report states.
“Mr. Harris said that the incident bothered him because Gahagan and Dawes were both considerably bigger men than the men they attacked,” the report states. “He said that he felt that Gahagan and Dawes were acting like bullies.”Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.