The state Attorney General’s Office has launched a criminal investigation into Plaistow Police Chief Douglas Mullin after a police union official alleged that he assaulted one of his own officers while screaming at him in his office.
The AG opened the investigation on Tuesday after reviewing a letter from Teamsters Local 633 principal officer Jeffrey Padellaro, who demanded that Mullin be placed on leave and that an outside law enforcement agency investigate the April 28 incident.
Selectmen and Town Manager Mark Pearson were notified about the investigation and told to cease any internal probe pending the outcome of the state’s investigation to “preserve the integrity of our review,” Deputy Attorney General Jane Young said.
Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway also was notified, Young said.
Selectmen have scheduled an emergency meeting for today (Thursday) at 4:30 p.m. at town hall, but are expected to go behind closed doors.
Selectmen Chairman Greg Taillon said only that the “allegation is under investigation, so currently there are no facts to be shared.”
Padellaro’s letter, which was dated April 29 and addressed to Assistant Town Manager Greg Colby, asked that Mullin be “relieved of duty” while an outside law enforcement agency investigates allegations that he assaulted Plaistow officer Anthony LaRosa after calling him into his office.
In the letter, which was obtained by a New Hampshire Union Leader correspondent, Padellaro stated that he sent it to Colby rather than Pearson because Mullin and Pearson are “close friends.”
He called on Pearson to voluntarily recuse himself from “involvement in this profoundly serious incident.”
Neither Pearson nor Mullin responded to phone calls and emails seeking comment.
In his letter, Padellaro wrote that Mullin had Sgt. Brian Oljey inform LaRosa that he needed to report to the chief’s office. LaRosa then asked Detective Kyle Coakley, who is also president of the Plaistow Police Association, to accompany him as a “union witness” to the meeting, the letter said.
After LaRosa and Coakley got to Mullin’s office, Padellaro wrote, the chief “screamed” at Coakley and told him to “Get the (expletive) out of my office, Kyle, NOW! … Get the (expletive) out of here! Anthony stay here!”
“The incident progressed to where Officer LaRosa was in the chief’s office attempting to extricate himself from an enraged individual that was screaming and attempting to physically pull him back into the room. The door was partially closed and Officer LaRosa was attempting to create distance between himself and Chief Mullin while Detective Kyle Coakley, Sgt. Oljey and Sgt. (Mark) Conway were outside the office. The chief was so loud and abusive that other officers and personnel heard the commotion and expressed concerns,” Padellaro wrote in the letter.
Padellaro said Mullin’s “unacceptable behavior” is “one of many” incidents involving Mullin that have led to a hostile work environment.
“The chief of police, who is expected to set the appropriate decorum in all interactions with citizens and employees alike, failed to comport himself in a reasonable and professional manner. It was inappropriate for Chief Mullin to put hands on an officer who was merely concerned for his safety,” Padellaro wrote in the letter.
Colby, the assistant town manager, declined to discuss the incident.
“This matter is a sensitive personnel matter that the town is actively investigating, and the town cannot provide a further comment at this time,” he said Wednesday.