LYNN - A State Police captain was suspended without pay yesterday, after a wild night in which he allegedly led Saugus police on a chase down Route 1 after an argument at a woman’s house.
Thomas McCarthy, 47, faces charges of failing to stop for police and failing to stay in his lane, according to documents filed in Lynn District Court. Police are also investigating whether he was driving drunk, after police found open and unopened beer bottles in his car.
Late Friday night, police responded to a woman’s home in Saugus for an alarm sounding and reports of an argument. Police found the woman standing in the garage and McCarthy, in an unmarked Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser, driving away.
A short time later, a Saugus police officer saw McCarthy’s cruiser swerving in and out of his lane on Central Street near Main Street. In a report filed in court, Officer James M. Scott said he recognized the car as the one that drove away from police at the woman’s home.
“While following the vehicle, I observed [it] cross over the center yellow line on numerous occasions,’’ Scott wrote in his report.
Scott turned on his blue lights to signal a pullover, but McCarthy kept going for about another block, until he stopped on Main Street near Summer Street. Then McCarthy turned on his own blue police lights as though to signal who he was to the officer.
The officer approached and said he could smell alcohol on McCarthy’s breath.
“I asked the operator to shut off his vehicle, and he replied something like ‘Are you kidding me?’ ’’ Scott said in his report. “I asked him again to shut off the vehicle and step out, to which he replied: ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m outta here.’ At which point, he reached for the gear shift, put the vehicle in drive, and started to drive away.’’
The chase continued onto Route 1 South, the police report said, with McCarthy allegedly running a stop sign before turning into the Square One Mall. He eventually stopped in the parking lot of Sears Automotive.
As Scott got out of his cruiser to arrest McCarthy, with another Saugus officer arriving as backup, McCarthy again said, “Are you kidding me?’’ according to the report.
Scott and another officer wrestled McCarthy to the ground after he refused to put his hands behind his back.
Saugus police found one open bottle of Miller beer and two unopened bottles in the cruiser.
McCarthy’s police firearm was also under the passenger seat of the cruiser.
McCarthy was off duty Friday night and should not have been driving the police cruiser, said David Procopio, a State Police spokesman. The nature of the allegations, including improperly using the cruiser, the alcohol in it, and refusing to stop for fellow law enforcement officers moved State Police to take the fairly unusual step of suspending McCarthy without pay, the spokesman said.
“We consider these to be aggravating circumstances,’’ Procopio said. “His actions are not indicative of the overwhelming majority of men and women of the State Police. This is not what the State Police Department is all about.’’
Police said the woman with whom McCarthy had been arguing was known to him. It is not clear what they were arguing about. Court documents list McCarthy as married and living in Stoneham.
McCarthy works out of Troop C in Central Massachusetts and serves as an evening shift commander. State Police captains earn about $110,000 per year, plus overtime.
McCarthy’s lawyer, Daniel W. O’Malley of Quincy, filed a motion to exclude McCarthy from having to appear personally in Lynn District Court for arraignment, which a judge denied. O’Malley then successfully moved to delay arraignment until Dec. 2.
O’Malley said McCarthy was not available to show up for arraignment.
The court documents indicate that McCarthy went to a facility in Florida. A law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the case, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that McCarthy is at a rehabilitation center there.
“We’re disappointed that he did not show up for his arraignment,’’ Procopio said. “Any citizen that gets arrested has to show up. We’re not sure why he thought he was different.’’
John Guilfoil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.