Inaccurate Report About Retired Trooper Results In Suspensions

William Leeman and Christopher Pagliuca are police officers employed by the Haverhill, Massachusetts Police Department. On March 30, 2012, Pagliuca was one of four police officers who responded to a reported DWI. The driver of the vehicle was Charles Noyes. The investigation revealed that Noyes had knocked down a utility pole in West Newbury and then continued to drive into Haverhill where he eventually stopped on the side of the road.

Following the incident, Pagliuca wrote a report that was reviewed and approved by Leeman. The report contained numerous omissions, including: Noyes’s statements to paramedics that he had been drinking; Noyes’s statements that he should be let go because he was a retired state trooper; the fact that Noyes actually was a retired state trooper; and that all of the officers at the scene, including Pagliuca, believed Noyes was intoxicated.

The Department suspended Pagliuca for five days for writing a report that “appeared to be purposely designed to avoid supporting that there was sufficient probable cause at the scene to make an arrest.” Leeman was suspended for ten days for the same offense. Both officers appealed to the City’s Civil Service Commission, which upheld the suspensions, and then appealed to a court.

The officers argued that they should not have been suspended because the facts known to Pagliuca, and subsequently transmitted to Leeman, were insufficient to support probable cause to arrest Noyes for DWI. The Court was unimpressed, concluding that “even if we were to assume that these arguments had merit (which we do not), they are irrelevant because the plaintiffs were not suspended for failing to arrest Noyes; rather, they were suspended because Pagliuca wrote an inaccurate and incomplete report that Leeman subsequently reviewed and approved.

“The officers also argue that the Commission decision was arbitrary and capricious because it upheld greater discipline in this case than it did in a 2011 incident involving another Haverhill police officer. Contrary to the officers’ claim, it is clear that the Commission concluded that the 2011 case was not comparative because it did not involve the submission of an inaccurate and incomplete report or a commanding officer’s direction to a subordinate not to correct the report. Because there is no indication that any evidence was arbitrarily discounted, the decision cannot be considered arbitrary or capricious.”

The Court ordered the officers to pay the City’s attorney fees.

Leeman v. City of Haverhill, 2017 WL 2644836 (Mass. App. 2017).