Holyoke man pleads not guilty following Pulaski Park knife incident

  • In screenshots taken from a video provided to the Gazette, Northampton Police can be seen responding to an incident in Pulaski Park on Tuesday, July 3. Police were called to the park for a report of a man and a woman using heroin. When officers arrived, the man, later identified as Douglas Bradford, allegedly pulled out a knife. Screenshot via submitted video by Tyler McKay

  • In screenshots taken from a video provided to the Gazette, Northampton Police can be seen responding to an incident in Pulaski Park on Tuesday, July 3. Police were called to the park for a report of a man and a woman using heroin. When officers arrived, the man, later identified as Douglas Bradford, allegedly pulled out a knife. Screenshot via submitted video by Tyler McKay

@ecutts_HG
Published: 7/5/2018 3:12:41 PM

NORTHAMPTON – A Holyoke man pleaded not guilty to charges of disturbing the peace and carrying a dangerous weapon after a knife-pulling incident in Pulaski Park on Tuesday.

Douglas J. Bradford, 41, entered his plea in Northampton District Court Thursday. He was released on personal recognizance, but because of three warrants out of Springfield, Ludlow and Palmer district courts, he was not released from custody and was instead taken to another court. 

Northampton Police were called to Pulaski Park at 12:35 p.m. Tuesday for a report of a man and woman possibly injecting heroin. When officers arrived, they found Bradford and a woman who gave her name to officers immediately, according to court documents. Police said Bradford initially gave officers a fake name and social security number before giving officers his real name and admitting there may be warrants for his arrest.

When Bradford was told to put his shirt on and stand up, he picked up his shirt and “immediately produced a black and yellow utility knife that was located directly below the T-shirt and backed away from us,” patrol officer Clay Delano wrote in a report. “At this time I drew my service weapon and pointed it at Bradford ordering him to drop the knife.”

Police said Bradford put the knife to his own throat while telling officers to kill him.

“Bradford proceeded to yell to officers that he had nothing to lose, and he was requesting that officers just shoot him. Officer Delano and I ordered Bradford to drop the knife several times, and advised him that his life was not worth ending over three warrants,” patrol officer Jeffrey Staples wrote in a report.

Delano and Staples continued to try and talk to Bradford as he was moving “erratically back and forth,” Delano wrote.

Moments later, patrol officer Peter Sharac arrived on scene with a 40 mm less-lethal launcher and pointed it at Bradford who then threw the knife away and dropped to the ground, according Delano’s report.

The 40 mm less-lethal launcher shoots rubber bullets and is larger than a handgun. The department owns about nine of them and some of the department’s cruisers are stocked with them as they are too big to carry on tactical belts, according to Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper. Officers are trained annually on the launcher.

“It provides an option between the other tools that we have on our belts – between that and a firearm,” Kasper said. “Obviously in no case do we ever want to have to shoot anyone with our firearms. This provides an intermediate force option.”

The launcher is considered “less lethal” but it can be lethal if someone is shot in the head, according to Kasper. The first officers on scene did pull their service weapons.

“In the case of Tuesday, when you have a distraught individual who pulls a knife out in a park full of people, next to buildings full of people – we really don’t know how it is going to escalate from there,” Kasper said.

The department does not own bean bag guns or electric stun guns.

Bradford’s next court date in Northampton District Court is scheduled for August 9. He was represented in court Thursday by attorney Kevin Kelley.

While responding to the incident, an officer in a cruiser on the way to the scene with lights and sirens on struck a woman in the crosswalk in front of City Hall, Kasper said on Tuesday. Kasper did not identify which officer hit the pedestrian, or what the consequences of that collision will be.

The woman was taken to Cooley Dickinson Hospital for what Kasper said was a bump on the head. On Thursday, Kasper said in an email that the woman a bump over her right eye and some scrapes on her elbows. 

“The cruiser struck the pedestrian in a low-speed collision,” the Police Department wrote in a statement. “The cruiser came to a complete stop with the front end of the vehicle still in the crosswalk. The pedestrian reported minor injuries and was transported to CDH. The accident is currently under investigation.”

Kasper said Thursday that a supervisor is conducting an accident investigation which includes collecting witness statements and writing the report. The Captain of Operations will review the report as well as Kasper.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.


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