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Police car strikes woman while responding to man with knife at Northampton park

  • Recorder photo/Ann Forcier



Staff Writers
Thursday, July 05, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — A woman was hospitalized Tuesday after being struck by a police cruiser responding to Pulaski Park for a report of a man with a knife.

Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper initially said police were called to the park at 12:35 p.m. for a report of a man with a knife, but in a subsequent Facebook post Kasper issued a statement that said they responded to “a call for a report of a male and female possibly injecting heroin.”

The officer on duty at the department Tuesday evening said that Sgt. Josef Barszcz was unavailable to answer follow-up questions to the department’s statement.

Officer Clay Delano and Jeffrey Staples responded to the scene. They were unable to identify the man until he pulled out a knife, according to the department’s statement.

“He held the knife to his own throat and began to back away,” Kasper’s statement reads. “Both officers drew their weapons, told the man to drop his knife, and they requested additional officers. Officers Delano and Staples worked to verbally de-escalate (Douglas) Bradford and pleaded with him to drop the knife.”

Police later identified the man as Douglas Bradford, of Holyoke.

“One of the officers arrived on scene and displayed the 40 mm less-lethal launcher,” the statement said. “Upon seeing the launcher Bradford dropped the knife and complied with police orders.”

Bradford, 41, was charged with disturbing the peace and carrying a dangerous weapon, according to the police statement, which adds that he was wanted on three warrants out of Springfield, Ludlow and Palmer district courts. No one was injured at Pulaski Park.

All available officers responded, and on the way to the scene with lights and sirens going, one of those officers struck a woman in the crosswalk in front of City Hall, Kasper said. 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.

“The cruiser struck the pedestrian in a low-speed collision,” reads the Police Department’s 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.”

Southampton resident Tyler McKay was leaving work near the park and walking to his car when he heard “very loud boisterous yelling” and “drop the knife” being repeated. He said he couldn’t see the man well enough to see if he had a knife but heard the man yelling for police to shoot him.

“Everybody stopped what they were doing to look at what was going on,” McKay said.

​​​​​​Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.​​​​​​Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.