DA finds Northampton police had probable cause to arrest Jonas Correia of Amherst in controversial video case
NORTHAMPTON — The Northwestern district attorney’s office said Friday that Northampton police had probable cause to arrest an Amherst man — and they did not use more force than necessary — outside a Pleasant Street bar in a March incident captured on controversial video and posted on YouTube.
Meanwhile, Northampton Police Chief Russell P. Sienkiewicz, in a brief statement Friday, said that the department has completed an internal review of the incident and the actions of officers at the scene — and that “no misconduct was identified.”
Criminal charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest against Jonas Correia were dropped in Northampton District Court Thursday, with the court agreeing to convert the disorderly conduct charge to a civil infraction.
“In light of the circumstances surrounding his arrest and their own internal policies the police used no more force than was necessary to effect this arrest,” the DA’s office said in a statement.
Once it was clear that Correia knew or should have known he was being placed into custody, he offered no resistance to the police. That’s why the state will not proceed with further prosecution on the charge of resisting arrest.
The decision was made after a thorough review of March 31 incident including available videos, witness accounts and police reports related to Correia’s arrest, the statement said.
The chief said the response complied with the department’s use of force and arrest policies, which are established under the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission standards and the Massachusetts Police Training Council’s guidelines.
He said it is common in district court to decriminalize misdemeanors for first-time offenders.
“In this case, the individual is being treated no differently,” than anyone in a similar situation, Sienkiewicz said.
Meanwhile, the DA’s office offered support for police.
“Recent events have reinforced the difficult, yet vital, role police officers play in our community,” the statement said. “They are asked to make split-second decisions to keep us all safe and return home to their families unharmed at the end of their shift.”
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.