Lowell police internal affairs report turned over in criminal case
LOWELL — The city of Lowell has turned over a police internal affairs report, which looked into whether several narcotics detectives falsified reports and affidavits last year, under orders from a judge handling an unrelated criminal matter in Middlesex Superior Court, officials said Thursday.
But the three Lowell officers, who were placed on administrative leave when the investigation was launched in November, still haven’t seen the internal affairs report or been informed of its findings, their lawyer, Douglas I. Louison, said.
Louison, who represents the Lowell Police Association, said in an e-mail Thursday that he has asked for the 50-page report and expects to learn this week whether Lowell Police Superintendent Raymond Kelly Richardson plans to take action against his clients.
He has identified the officers on leave as Nicholas Dokos, Rafael Rivera, and David Lavoie.
The Lowell Police Department has finished investigating the officers, but they remain on leave and the internal affairs report hasn’t been released to the public.
Since being placed on leave, the officers have been prohibited from testifying in criminal cases, causing more than 30 cases to be dismissed so far, the Middlesex district attorney’s office said.
In the meantime, defense lawyers have been asking for the internal affairs report, arguing it would probably shed light on the credibility of Lowell police officers who investigated their clients.
On Thursday, the Middlesex district attorney’s office said the internal affairs report was produced in the case of Jonathan Booker, a Lowell resident who is being prosecuted on charges of resisting arrest and a subsequent drug offense.
Superior Court Judge Laurence D. Pierce ordered the document turned over at the request of Booker’s lawyer, court records show. It was delivered Wednesday to the Middlesex Superior Court clerk’s office in Woburn and provisionally impounded. Booker’s attorney didn’t immediately return a message Thursday evening.
Defense lawyers are also seeking the internal affairs report in Middlesex Superior Court in Lowell, where a judge Thursday ordered the document to be produced in a case in which three men were arrested after police recovered drugs and guns from a Lowell residence in 2016.
Dokos and Rivera were among the officers who investigated the case and would be called to testify at trial, Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Whitney Anne Williams said in court.
Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger said the defense lawyers are probably entitled to the internal affairs report but cautioned it might have to be redacted before being disseminated. She said she planned to read the document privately and asked the city and district attorney’s office to submit their proposals for possible redactions by March 26.
At issue in the internal affairs investigation are statements the Lowell officers wrote in reports and affidavits prepared in the case of Paul Aaron, 31, who was arrested on March 7, 2018, wearing a bulletproof vest and allegedly carrying a kilo of suspected fentanyl.
Their account of the arrest was called into question in October when New Hampshire State Police Trooper Francisco Vicente testified about the incident in federal court in Concord, N.H., where Aaron faces drug conspiracy charges. Aaron has pleaded not guilty. The next hearing in his case is March 8.
Vicente testified that officers arrested Aaron on East Merrimack Street in Lowell after watching him approach a livery car, lean into the window, and walk away with a shopping bag, according to a court transcript.
Vicente said Aaron wasn’t carrying the bag before he approached the car — a crucial detail, his lawyer wrote in court papers, because officers said it provided probable cause to stop Aaron. Vicente testified he began tracking Aaron after learning he may have been meeting in Lowell with an alleged fentanyl dealer under investigation in New Hampshire, the transcript said.
But surveillance video shows Aaron was carrying a bag as he neared the vehicle.
Aaron’s lawyer, David H. Bownes, played the video in federal court on Oct. 9, and prosecutors quickly agreed to throw out evidence seized during the arrest and a search of Aaron’s apartment, including the bulletproof vest, suspected fentanyl, and illegal firearms.
Bownes alleges that the Lowell officers made the same false statements about Aaron’s arrest in written reports that Vicente testified to under oath in federal court.
Louison, the lawyer for the police association, has said his clients wrote the reports by using information they received from Vicente, who was more deeply involved in the case.
On Wednesday, State Police in New Hampshire said Vicente remains on duty as a trooper.