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Joshua Alicea of Easthampton faces charges after fight at Pulaski Club; mother disputes police account

Getty Images

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Police allege Joshua Alicea of 19 Arlington St. instigated a fight with another man and pulled a knife on him. Alicea’s mother, Lisa Alicea, who was also at the club during the incident, said her son is the victim of a racially motivated crime and that officers were biased against him because he is Puerto Rican.

Police Capt. Robert Alberti maintains officers conducted a thorough investigation, interviewed witnesses and found evidence — the knife — to support charging Joshua Alicea.

He said Lisa Alicea’s claims that officers were biased against her son are “completely erroneous.” He said that no one interviewed by police, including members of the Alicea family, said racial epithets had been used during the incident.

Police have filed paperwork to summon Joshua Alicea to Northampton District Court to face charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (knife), assault with a dangerous weapon (pool cue) and threatening to commit a crime (murder). Alberti said police did not arrest Alicea that night because he had been taken by ambulance to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton to be treated for facial injuries suffered during the fight.

Alberti said video surveillance footage from the club supports witness accounts that Alicea was the aggressor, but he also acknowledged that no knife was visible and that much of the fight was out of the camera’s range.

Officers responding to the incident concluded, based on interviews with two alleged victims and three witnesses, that Joshua Alicea started the fight after a 29-year-old bar patron made a comment to him about his gloves, which had blinking lights on them. A fight involving a pool cue ensued, police said.

A patron told police that Joshua Alicea pulled a knife and threatened to kill her, her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s mother.

In an interview, Lisa Alicea countered that the male patron targeted her son because of his race and made homophobic comments to him.

The man “trampled over me and attacked my son,” Lisa Alicea said. The man punched her son repeatedly in the face, she said, “until his blood was everywhere.”

Lisa Alicea said she was knocked to the ground and punched in the head several times, and another man punched her son in the side of his head.

“Everyone was yelling, ‘We don’t want your type here,’ ” and used the N-word repeatedly, she said. When they fled out the back door, she said, patrons came after them, and they fled in two cars.

Conflicting accounts

Officers responding to a 911 call from the bartender about a fight involving a knife stopped both cars near the intersection of Franklin and Maple streets.

Joshua Alicea told an officer that he had gotten into a fight, but denied pulling a knife, and said he did not have a knife on him, according to police. Sgt. Brian Ross reported finding a knife in the car’s glove compartment that matched the description, given by witnesses, of a curved blade with red accents.

Lisa Alicea said her son never pulled a knife and that the blade was in the glove compartment of her car because she used it to install a car stereo.

The differing accounts cannot be clarified by the surveillance video because, according to police, most of the altercation was not caught on camera. Police declined to release the footage to the Gazette, saying it is part of a continuing investigation.

Alberti said the video shows Joshua Alicea approach the patron at the bar and wave his gloves near him, and then jab the man with the pool cue. At that point, the two go out of camera range.

Lisa Alicea questioned why police did not arrest the other man, given her son’s facial injuries. Alberti said police can’t arrest people on assault and battery charges unless it is a domestic incident, is witnessed by officers or is believed to involve a weapon.

The Aliceas were told that they could file their own criminal complaint against the man in Northampton District Court. That complaint was filed Tuesday, but will not be public unless a clerk finds reasonable cause to issue a charge.

Claims of racism

Lisa Alicea maintains that the attack and the charges are all products of racism she has endured in Easthampton during the last 13 years. “I’m making a big deal of this because we’re tired of this,” she said.

She said the police report failed to include her account and only briefly mentions her son’s comments.

“Where are our voices? We’re not even in there,” Lisa Alicea said. She spoke at the scene to Officer Luis Rivera, but he did not fill out a report.

Alberti said usually some but not all officers who investigate an incident write reports. He said he intends now to instruct Rivera to write a report.

“My officers deal with each incident or situation as the evidence presents, regardless of race, creed or color,” Alberti said.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

Legacy Comments8

One must wonder what sort of "mother" hangs out in a bar with her son....

I have gone to a bar for drinks after dinner with my mom. No harm in having a few beers with your mom.

"Joshua Alicea of Easthampton faces cocaine charges after traffic stop in Greenfield "....Clearly Mr. Alicea is being wonderfully parented! Or, maybe sometimes, they enjoy that together as well. Stand up people here!

Well,let's just say,having been born and raised on the St.that the Pulaski Club is located,we didn't have such disturbances back then.I don't think if a different group of people move into an area and cause trouble,you need to scream racism.It is what it is,and if the troublemaker is non-white,so be it,deal with it.

This is BS! I have witnesses the biased nature of the Easthampton PD regularly. I have also witnessed the racism in that town and how quick the officers there will take the word of the white man any day! Its ridiculous!

You have made malicious accusations in slandering the Easthampton PD and our city of Easthampton, with no factual content. Apparently you judge on your biased interpretation. The Easthampton PD did not cause this incident, it was the stupidity of individuals who caused it, but you failed to comment on that, instead you focused your irrational comments on the people who responded to a call; now that is truly ridiculous.

I am not biased in my witnessing of what the PD has done. I have seen it and I have dealt with it. I have been mistreated by them and watched friends get mistreated by the force there. My opinions are based on actual sight seeing of the PD acting out against people who are not white. This is not the only force that does it either. While many times, yes the person did wrong, its the way it is handled that brings race in as a factor. Automatically it is assumed by all that because he is not white that he did wrong and automatically the only Hispanic officer did not fill out a report, hmmm can we smell cover up. I bet he was told not to because his story probably backed up the mom. It happens regularly, inside racism is just as common. I study Criminal Justice and I focus on injustice and inequality inside and outside of the force.

Again, malicious slander; if you study Criminal Justice you would know this. Your comments are slander and without merit, and that makes you libel. One must lead by facts, not assumptions.

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