Charges dropped against Jonas Correia of Amherst in videotaped Northampton arrest case
NORTHAMPTON — Criminal charges have been dropped against an Amherst man whose late-night arrest outside a Pleasant Street bar was captured in a controversial video posted on YouTube and watched nearly 76,000 times.
In documents filed in Northampton District Court on Thursday, the Northwestern district attorney’s office said that it won’t proceed with further prosecution of Jonas Correia on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct stemming from a March 31 incident outside Tully O’Reilly’s Pub.
Prosecutors found after reviewing evidence that Correia offered no resistance to police at the time he “knew or should have known he was being placed under arrest,” wrote Michael Russo, assistant district attorney.
The court also approved Russo’s motion to convert the disorderly conduct charge to a civil infraction.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which came to Correia’s defense after the video came to light, credited Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan for refusing to go forward with a criminal prosecution it called “unwarranted and unjustified.”
“From the outset, we have maintained our confidence in Mr. Correia’s innocence,” attorneys William Newman and Luke Ryan said in an ACLU statement. “As today’s dismissal of the criminal complaint shows, he is.”
Newman and Ryan called on the Northampton Police Department to dismiss the remaining civil count of disorderly conduct. The ACLU promised to “vigorously” defend Correia if the complaint, which carries a maximum civil penalty of $150, goes forward.
Police Chief Russell Sienkiewicz and Mayor David J. Narkewicz could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
Correia’s March 31 arrest was captured on a five-minute video posted on YouTube under the title “Northampton Massachusetts Police Brutality.” It was filmed by someone who claimed to be a lawyer.
In the video, two officers can be seen bringing Correia, of 12A Longmeadow Drive, Amherst, to the ground outside Tully O’Reilly’s and placing him in restraints after a third officer sprayed him in the face with pepper spray.
Police alleged that Correia threatened a member of the bar’s staff, prompting police to subdue him. His arrest followed another involving a man who allegedly punched a bar employee after refusing to leave.
According to police, Correia pulled away and ran from officers before being pepper sprayed, taken to the ground and handcuffed.
On the five-minute video, people on the sidewalk outside the bar can be heard insisting Correia had done nothing to warrant action by police and shouted accusations of racism.
The case drew the attention of the Amherst chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which said the video raises deep concern about the way Correia was treated.