Man acquitted in 2017 City Hall protest faces new charges

  • FILE PHOTO  FILE PHOTO

  • Eric Matlock appears at his trial in Northampton District Court, Sept. 26. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/21/2019 10:59:42 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Four months after being acquitted on charges related to his controversial 2017 arrest and pepper-spraying on the steps of City Hall, Eric Matlock was arrested on similar charges stemming from a downtown encounter with police on Friday.

The 34-year-old city resident was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, assault and battery on a police officer, intimidation of a witness, marijuana possession with intent to distribute, and malicious damage to a motor vehicle.

The arrest stemmed from an incident in Haymarket Cafe on Main Street, where police said Matlock allegedly yelled obscenities at Officer Andrew Kohl and told him to take off his badge while pointing outside, according to Kohl’s arrest report.

Attorney Dana Goldblatt confirmed Monday that she will be representing Matlock, but declined to comment on the case.

Goldblatt has previously represented Matlock, both during his trial over the City Hall arrest as well as several other incidents since that arrest when police have implicated Matlock in disturbances. Goldblatt previously described those incidents as “continued harassment” at the hands of police.

On Sept. 27, 2018, Matlock, who is black, was found not guilty on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault and battery on a police officer related to his 2017 arrest. The charges stemmed from Matlock protesting outside the front entrance of City Hall over the removal of his child by the Department of Children and Families. That arrest, and the subsequent trial, raised questions in Northampton about use of force, race and policing.

On Friday, police charged Matlock with disorderly conduct and intimidation of a witness based on his verbal altercation with Officer Kohl in Haymarket Cafe. After that encounter, Kohl called for backup, and as another officer attempted to grab and arrest Matlock, he fled, according to Kohl’s narrative. Police eventually tackled Matlock, who was yelling “I didn’t do anything wrong” as he fled, according to Kohl.

Matlock was charged with resisting arrest, as well as assault and battery on a police officer, after police chased, tackled and handcuffed him. While Kohl was attempting to tackle Matlock, the two struck a vehicle and allegedly damaged it, according to Kohl’s report, resulting in Matlock being charged with malicious damage to a motor vehicle.

Matlock was also charged with possession with intent to distribute a class D substance after police found eight individually wrapped bags of marijuana on him, according to Kohl.

Northampton Police Detective Michael Briggs told the Gazette that the marijuana totaled around 15 grams. In Massachusetts, possession of up to 1 ounce — or around 28 grams — of marijuana is legal, though Briggs said the intent to distribute charge stemmed from the fact that it was in multiple bags.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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