Chief Robert M. Eaton Jr.
70 Brookline Road
Townsend, MA 01469
For Immediate Release
Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016
Contact: John Guilfoil
Townsend Police Officer Brutally Attacked by Suspect in Holding Cell
Police Chief Calls for Support for Regional Lockup for Suspects
Suspect had been Ordered Held at Townsend Police Department for Long Holiday Weekend
TOWNSEND – Chief Robert M. Eaton Jr. is renewing calls for support for a countywide pre-arraignment lockup facility Middlesex after a Townsend police officer was brutally attacked by a dangerous suspect who tried to escape from a holding cell at the Townsend Police Department.
Officer George Reidy, a 16-year veteran of the Townsend Police Department, was treated at an area hospital for serious but non life-threatening injuries after he was attacked by a 21-year-old Tisbury (Vineyard Haven) man who was being held on multiple arrest warrants.
On Saturday afternoon, Townsend Police received a call to be on the the lookout for a man who had walked away from a drug treatment center in another community and could possibly be a danger to himself. Townsend Police located the man and determined he had three arrest warrants:
- Tewksbury: OUI with Serious Bodily Injury and Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle
- Tewksbury: Protective Order Violation
- Tisbury/Vineyard Haven: Assault and Battery (Strangulation/Suffocation)
As a result, the individual was taken into custody. A bail commissioner ordered the suspect held without bail for three nights at the Townsend Police Department, due to the holiday weekend. The suspect complained of various ailments throughout the weekend and was transported to two different hospitals and cleared each time to return to the police department. Shortly after the second hospital stint, as the suspect was being brought back to the holding cell, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound suspect allegedly attacked Officer Reidy and tried to strangle him. The suspect also allegedly grabbed the officer’s Taser and tried to use it on the officer, but was unable to operate the device.
The suspect attempted to escape, but was restrained and returned to the cell. He has been charged with:
- Escape from a Municipal Lockup
- Attempted Murder
- Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon
- Assault and Battery (Strangulation/Suffocation)
The suspect was arraigned in Ayer District Court on Tuesday, and any additional information about his specific case would need to come from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.
In addition to the attack on Officer Reidy, holding the suspect cost the Townsend Police Department nearly $4,000 in unanticipated holding, transportation, and medical costs. Chief Eaton does not believe that this kind of policy is sustainable, and it presents a tremendous burden, especially to smaller police departments.
“What matters most of all is that Officer Reidy was not more seriously injured and that was able to go home to his family,” Chief Eaton said. “Small towns throughout Middlesex County and beyond are neither equipped nor funded to hold prisoners long-term. With the budgetary strains we are under and decreased staffing levels seen all over, municipal police departments have long called for a regional or countywide lockup for prisoners, and this case is a perfect example of why it is sorely needed. The care and custody of prisoners removes police officers from the community, as they are forced to stay at the police station to watch prisoners, it costs communities money, and it presents a clear danger to individual officers tasked with supervising and transporting dangerous felons who should be in a more specialized and secure facility.”
A legislative proposal for a regional lockup filed by Senator Ken Donnelly – and spearheaded by Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian and the Middlesex County Chiefs of Police Association – is pending and has received support from chiefs of police in all 54 Middlesex County communities. Sheriff Koutoujian and Middlesex County Chiefs, including Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan and Bedford Police Chief Robert Bongiorno are currently working with state officials to identify a funding source in order to move forward with the regional lockup proposal, which has received support from chiefs in all 54 Middlesex County communities.
These are allegations. All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.