ACLU to represent Amherst man seen in video arrest
GAZETTE FILE PHOTO The director of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says charges brought by the Northampton Police Department against an Amherst man at the center of a controversial videotaped arrest are unfounded and his group will help represent the defendant. Purchase photo reprints »
NORTHAMPTON — The director of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says charges against an Amherst man at the center of a controversial video are “unfounded” and his group will help represent him.
The arrest of Jonas Correia, 26, of 12A Longmeadow Drive early Sunday morning in front of Tully O’Reilly’s Pub in Northampton was recorded on video and posted on YouTube.
William Newman of the ACLU said by telephone Wednesday that local attorney Luke Ryan will handle Correia’s defense on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and the ACLU will also be involved.
“The video speaks for itself,” Newman said. “We believe the charges are unfounded. At the end of this process, Mr. Correia will be exonerated.”
Attempts to reach Ryan were unsuccessful.
According to police reports, about 1:35 a.m. while officers were tending to the arrest of another man who allegedly punched a bar employee after refusing to leave, Correia allegedly threatened another staff person outside the bar, prompting police to subdue him.
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.
In a statement released Tuesday by Mayor David Narkewicz’s office, Northampton Police Chief Russell Sienkiewicz said, “The NPD was summoned to Tully O’Reilly’s in response to a series of altercations that took place that night. In the moments before the video started, the arrested individual had attempted to assault a Tully’s bouncer and fled the grasp of an NPD officer, and he was then subdued, arrested and placed into custody. The taking of pictures played no role in the arrest.”
The matter is still under investigation, according to the statement.
Correia pleaded not guilty in Northampton District Court on Monday and was released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court May 16 for a pre-trial hearing.
Attempts to reach Correia were unsuccessful. A message left for Tully O’Reilly’s owner Tully McColgan was not immediately returned.
The video, titled “Northampton Massachusetts Police Brutality” and posted anonymously under the name “tiredofit,” had been seen nearly 50,000 times by Wednesday afternoon.
On the clip the videographer can be heard insisting multiple times that she is an attorney. That person is believed to be Rachel Rothman of Northampton.
Several voicemail messages left at Rothman’s office Wednesday were not returned.
Public access to a Facebook page under Rothman’s name with links to the arrest video was blocked sometime Wednesday afternoon.
Staff at Narkewicz’s office said by telephone Wednesday said the mayor would not comment on the incident beyond Tuesday’s statement.
A message left for Sienkiewicz seeking additional comment Wednesday was not immediately returned.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.