A police sergeant for the Manchester-by-the-Sea Police Department was arrested recently for domestic violence and weapon charges, after an altercation with a female.
Massachusetts criminal defense attorneys understand that when officers in Beverly responded to a domestic violence and shots fired call, they reportedly discovered a cache of weapons, including 11 rifles, 16 handguns, eight shotguns, four samurai swords and a large stash of ammunition.
As a police officer, he would have almost certainly had a state license to carry a firearm. However, the gun charges (aside from the discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling and assault with a dangerous weapon) are specifically related to his storage of those weapons.
Massachusetts General Law, Part 1, Title XX, Chapter 140, Section 131L, it’s against the law to keep or store any firearm, shotgun, rifle or machine gun in any place unless it’s secured in a locked container or equipped with some form of tamper-resistant mechanical lock or safety device. It has to be locked in such a way that the weapon will be inoperable except by the owner or other authorized user.
The law doesn’t apply if you are physically carrying it, in which case it’s not deemed “stored” or “kept.” It also doesn’t apply to any weapon with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap or some similar type of ignition system made in or prior to 1899 or any replica of such a gun.
Penalties for violating this statute vary, depending on the type of weapon. For guns that aren’t considered large-capacity weapons, you face a year in jail and a $500 fine. For large capacity weapon, the maximum fine is increased to $10,000 and you face imprisonment of up to 10 years.
This officer is facing three such charges.
According to The Salem News, officers responding to a domestic disturbance call found the sergeant for a nearby department on the sidewalk, shouting to a woman who was inside a home. Officers indicated that upon investigation, they learned that the pair had been fighting. At one point, the sergeant left the room and returned with a handgun. The alleged victim would later say that the sergeant first pointed the gun at her, and then to the dog, which he threatened to kill.
The woman made her way out of the room, out the front door and walked to the neighbor’s home. As she was walking, she said she heard a gunshot behind her. The sergeant later explained to the responding officers that the gun had accidentally discharged when he was attempting to put it away.
He was nonetheless arrested, and in addition to the weapons charges, he is facing charges of assault and battery and witness intimidation.
It’s likely that the officer will also be placed on leave from work, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation, as well as the likely internal investigation. In both cases, he will require legal services from an experienced criminal defense attorney with proven results.