A veteran Hull police sergeant was suspended after he was charged with allegedly punching his 72-year-old neighbor in the face last month, according to officials and court records.
Sergeant Scott F. Saunders, 45, was arrested at his Pembroke home shortly after his neighbor, Harry Horsley, reported the assault that took place around noon on July 24, according to a police report. Saunders pleaded not guilty to assault and battery on a person over 65 and was released on personal recognizance, records show.
Hull Police Chief John Dunn said Thursday that police in Pembroke notified him about the arrest the day that it happened, and he placed Saunders on paid administrative leave, suspended his license to carry firearms, and seized both his department-issued firearms and at least one other gun Saunders personally owns.
Dunn said he also notified the state Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, which certifies police officers, that Saunders has been suspended while the criminal case is pending. Saunders was also required to surrender his badge, Dunn said.
Saunders’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.
Dunn said he did not issue a public statement until Thursday because Saunders was arrested by another department and was off-duty during the alleged altercation.
“I didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to comment on something that happened off duty and out of my jurisdiction,’' Dunn said. “I am not trying to cover up or hide anything.”
Saunders’ arrest was first reported by Boston25, which also posted a video of the altercation that was recorded by a neighbor.
Saunders was hired by the Hull department in 2004 and promoted to sergeant in 2019, along with his younger brother, Steven Saunders, Dunn said.
Horsley, in a brief telephone conversation Thursday, said the incident was deeply disturbing, especially since he and Saunders live in the same neighborhood near Furnace Pond.
“I’ll get over the, you know, the physical part of it, but the emotional part may go on forever,’' he said. “It’s just crazy. He lives in my own frickin’ neighborhood.”
According to the police report, Horsley was driving on Furnace Colony Drive when he passed Saunders, who was walking on the side of the road and carrying a paddleboard in one arm. A black pickup truck was traveling in the other lane.
As he drove by, Saunders hit his car with the paddleboard, Horsley told police. Horsley pulled over and got out of his car, and as he turned to face Saunders, the officer grabbed him and “sucker punched” him, he told police.
“He was thrown to the ground with Saunders straddling on top of him,” police said.
When he was interviewed by police, Horsley “had multiple cuts to the left side of his face and cheek area, blood was coming from his left nostril, and his left cheek and the eye area were swelling and bruising,” police wrote.
Saunders told police he and Horsley have had previous disagreements, including times that Horsley would drive too close when he was walking through the neighborhood.
Saunders said Horsley “raised his hand” as he approached so he pushed him to the ground and held him down. Horsley “began to raise his hand again and Saunders punched Horsley once to the face,” police wrote in the report.
Saunders told police that his home surveillance camera captured the incident and that it would vindicate him, according to the report. But police said the video showed that “Horsley appears to give adequate space to Saunders as he drives past him and is travelling at an appropriate speed,” police wrote. “As Horsley and Saunders are speaking, Horsley’s hands are not seen raised.”