Nearly six months after it happened, an Ipswich police officer was arraigned in a North Shore courtroom today on charges that he attacked his girlfriend and then struggled with a fellow police officer in an attempt to get into the home where his girlfriend had fled, authorities said.
Peter Nikas, 52, pleaded not guilty to four counts of assault and battery, malicious destruction of property, and intimidation of a witness in connection with the alleged assault, which occurred on October 27 and 28 of 2013, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office said in a statement.
Judge Peter Doyle set bail at $1,000 cash, ordered him to surrender any firearms he owns to the Ipswich police, to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet and to stay away from the victims in the case, according to Blodgett’s office.
The charges followed a three-month investigation by Blodgett’s office.
“It’s unfortunate that this incident happened,” Ipswich Town Manager Robin Crosbie said today. “It’s very unfortunate for the town, the department and the officers involved. But we are committed to cooperating with the district attorney in this matter, and are committed to taking whatever measures are necessary to restore the confidence of the public in the police department.”
Peter Nikas is the brother of Ipswich Police Chief Paul Nikas, according to town officials.
Crosbie said that last fall, she ordered Paul Nikas “not to be involved in anything related to his brother.”
Crosbie said Peter Nikas will be on paid administrative leave until the disposition of the charges against him.
“I will say this,” she said, “Anyone charged with domestic violence or convicted with domestic violence has the right to carry a weapon automatically revoked. Carrying a weapon is an essential duty of a police officer. Therefore, if a police officer cannot carry a weapon, they cannot be a police officer.”
Nikas has not worked as a police officer since mid-November, said Crosbie, when the alleged assault came to her attention. For “the most part of that time,” he was on paid administrative leave, she said, but a confidential agreement between Nikas and the town about his return to work prohibited her from explaining further, she said.
The agreement was reached in late March, she said, and the terms are confidential, but it would have allowed Nikas to return to work as a patrol officer instead of his with former rank of sergeant.
“He was scheduled to return to work next week, but this [arraignment] intervened and changed that,” she said.
Nikas’ salary information was not immediately available. Chief Nikas did not respond to a request for comment.
According to prosecutors, on the night of October 27, 2013, Nikas got into a physical confrontation with his girlfriend, who then sought refuge for herself and her children at a friend’s home, where another police officer lived.
Later, Nikas allegedly showed up intoxicated at the friend’s home and began shouting at his girlfriend. The other police officer drove him home and tried to calm him down, according to prosecutors.
After midnight on October 28, according to prosecutors, Nikas allegedly returned to the home where his girlfriend was, demanded she come out of the house, and began trying to get inside the house.
The other police officer tried to stop him, but Nikas allegedly pushed through the door and the two got into a physical altercation. The police officer was eventually able to get Nikas to leave, according to prosecutors.
Nikas was arraigned in Ipswich District Court, which is currently being held at the Newburyport courthouse. He is due back in court on June 10 for a pretrial conference. His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.