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Threat video wasn’t first run-in for Medford detective

The video that showed a Medford police detective threatening a motorist this week was not the first online posting to attract the attention of his superiors. A 2012 YouTube video earned Stephen LeBert an admonishment not to interfere with people recording officers on city streets.

LeBert, who is on leave after he forced a motorist to pull over Sunday while off duty and threatened to “put a hole right in your head,” had no active disciplinary issues at the time, Medford Police Chief Leo Sacco said Tuesday.

But Sacco added that he had reprimanded LeBert over the 2012 video, in which a man used his cellphone to record police as they interacted with the man’s brother.


In the video, posted to YouTube, a grinning LeBert positions himself between the man and other officers and then licks his finger and puts it on the camera lens.

The man and LeBert also have a brief exchange about substance abuse and the man’s brother. LeBert tells the man that his brother ought to lie down on railroad tracks, according to the video.

“He was called in and advised [that] people do have a right to take a video,’’ Sacco said. “For the most part, I thought he understood what I was saying.’’

Sacco said LeBert was also disciplined in 1992 after he and his uncle, Medford police Officer Richard LeBert, confronted a neighbor who spat on Stephen LeBert’s wife.

During the confrontation at the doorway of the neighbor’s house, a person was struck on the top of the head, Sacco said.

Stephen LeBert was not accused of causing physical harm, Sacco said.

Both LeBerts were given multiple day suspensions as a result. Richard LeBert is still on the force, said Sacco, who has been chief since 1990.

Sacco said he has seen the video from Sunday night, and that he does not approve of how the veteran detective spoke to the motorist — using expletives.


He also questioned LeBert’s decision to pull over a motorist while off duty.

Nonetheless, Sacco said he considers LeBert to be an effective, determined police officer who is fully committed to helping people who become victims of crimes.

Recently, Sacco said, LeBert solved a handful of house breaks, and recovered stolen jewelry from pawnshops and returned them to the victims, including an elderly woman. LeBert has been a detective since 2007.

“He’s effective. He’s persistent,’’ Sacco said.

“If you were a victim of a crime, you’d want him to be investigating for you. I know that sounds like I am taking his side, but that’s the way he is.’’

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.

Correction: Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this story mischaracterized comments Medford Police Chief Leo Sacco Jr. made about a 1992 incident involving Officer Richard LeBert in which a person was struck on the top of the head.