WOBURN — To prosecutors, MBTA Transit Police Officer Jennifer M. Garvey is a woman with a history of violent outbursts who brandished a firearm at her wife after she scratched their car Saturday night.
To her wife, 32-year-old Jennifer Garvey is a combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder who has been on a downward spiral since two New York City police officers were fatally shot last month — and a person who needs help, Jennifer Garvey’s defense attorney said.
After a confrontation with her wife, Ann Garvey, 39, Saturday night, Jennifer Garvey was briefly hospitalized for a psychological examination. She was later charged with assaulting Ann Garvey , who is also a Transit Police officer, according to court testimony.
Jennifer Garvey was arrested Monday and held after her Tuesday arraignment until Thursday, when a Woburn District Court judge ordered her to go to McLean Hospital in Belmont to undergo treatment designed for police officers, active military members, and first responders. She is charged with assault and battery on a household member and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
“My client said, ‘I’m looking for help,’ ” said defense lawyer John J. McGlone III. “She needs help with PTSD.”
Ann Garvey told Judge Neil Hourihan during a dangerousness hearing Thursday that she does not fear Jennifer Garvey.
Hourihan found Jennifer Garvey posed a danger, but allowed her to be released for treatment in McLean’s LEADER Program, which offers mental health and drug addiction services to police officers, active duty military personnel, and first responders. Clinicians will determine how long Jennifer Garvey will remain there, said Don Purington, a team leader and peer specialist with the state Department of Veterans’ Services.
Late Saturday, Ann Garvey made a hysterical phone call to Transit Police Deputy Chief James Witzgall at 11:58 p.m., according to testimony and police reports filed in court.
She told Witzgall her wife had threatened her with a gun, which she wrestled away. She had a black eye, which she said she suffered when she fell, according to a police report, and had a bite mark she did not explain, he said. When Ann Garvey called, she was en route to the Wilmington police station, Witzgall said.
“She needs help,” Witzgall quoted Ann Garvey as telling him. She said her wife was struggling with PTSD and flashbacks.
After hanging up, Witzgall said he called the Transit Police duty supervisor, Lieutenant Richard A. Campos, and told him to go to the Wilmington police station to meet her.
At the station, Wilmington police Sergeant David Sugrue said Ann Garvey appeared upset, but was reluctant to discuss what happened and would not let officers photograph her injuries.
“She stated that she was not a victim . . . She just wants her wife to get help,” Sugrue said.
Ann Garvey said her wife “was having a real hard time” since two New York City police officers were fatally shot last month, Sugrue said.
He testified that the two got into a confrontation at their Wilmington home after Ann Garvey scratched their car while backing up as the couple returned from dinner and “a few beers” at a 99 Restaurant.
Transit Police officers arrived at the station and met privately with Ann Garvey, according to testimony. Wilmington and Transit Police decided to seek an involuntary mental health commitment for Jennifer Garvey, Sugrue said.
“It was the best course of action we felt that evening for all parties involved,” he said.
Officers and Wilmington firefighters then went to the couple’s home to enforce the order and took Jennifer Garvey to Winchester Hospital, where she was evaluated and released after six hours, according to court testimony and a police report.
Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Maren Schrader requested that Jennifer Garvey be held under the state’s dangerousness statute or be sent to a locked facility. She said Jennifer Garvey has a history of violent behavior and submitted court records showing prior arrests.
Jennifer Garvey posed a threat to herself and others, including two or three small children who live in the couple’s home, Schrader said. The children are from a previous relationship of Ann Garvey’s, according to court testimony.
“A scratch on the car, drinking alcohol becomes a fight where a firearm is pulled out,” Schrader said. “Who’s not to say that one day she’s going to have this PTSD and then it’s not just her pulling her firearm on her wife, but it’s her pulling her firearm on three small children.”
Ann Garvey attended the hearing wearing a sling on her arm. She declined to comment.
Jennifer Garvey has been placed on leave with pay, said Joe Pesaturo, an MBTA spokesman.
Pesaturo said Transit Police are reviewing the department’s response to the incident to “determine if it was handled in accordance with department policies and procedures.”John R. Ellement contributed to this report. Laura Crimaldi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.