Northampton Police mace, arrest man outside of City Hall

  • In screenshots taken from a video on Facebook, Northampton Police are seen arresting Eric Matlock, 33, outside of City Hall Monday afternoon, Aug. 7, 2017. Police said Matlock was creating a safety hazard sitting in front of the door. Matlock's partner Pamela Juda said he was silently protesting. facebook

  • In a screenshot taken from a video on Facebook, Northampton Police are seen arresting Eric Matlock, 33, outside of City Hall Monday afternoon. Police said Matlock was creating a safety hazard sitting in front of the door. When they tried to move him, Matlock grabbed the nearby metal handrail. Matlock’s partner Pamela Juda said he was silently protesting.

Published: 8/7/2017 10:06:46 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A 33-year-old man who police said refused to move away from the entrance to City Hall Monday afternoon was arrested after a struggle that involved four officers, one of whom pepper-sprayed the man in an attempt to get him to let go of a handrail.

The incident was captured on video and posted to Facebook by a woman who in the video says she is the man’s wife, Pamela Juda.

Northampton Police were called to City Hall around 12:48 p.m., where they found Eric Matlock, of the streets of Northampton, sitting in front of the door, blocking people from entering or leaving, Sgt. Joe Barszcz said. Matlock was holding a sign that read “Stop lying give me back what you stole. -Eric Matlock.” The opposite side of the sign read, “Go around back.”

Officers asked Matlock to move.

“Officers told him he was creating safety issues by blocking the entrance of the building,” Barszcz said.

Matlock refused to speak with officers, at which point Barszcz said officers told him they would physically move him to resolve the safety issue.

As two officers attempted to move him to the side, Matlock allegedly flailed his body and crawled to a nearby metal handrail, wrapping his arms tightly around it, Barszcz said. At some point during the incident, Matlock allegedly hit an officer on the left forearm, according to police.

Two more officers were called to the scene. Barszcz said the officers told Matlock he was under arrest and that if he didn’t let go of the pole, he would be pepper-sprayed.

Officers then pepper-sprayed Matlock before removing him from the railing after a roughly 30-second struggle. They placed him under arrest on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault and battery on a police officer.

In the nearly four-minute long video posted to Facebook, Matlock can be heard coughing and saying “I’m not spitting, I’m trying to breathe (expletive).”

As officers were questioned by people off camera as to why Matlock was being arrested, one officer can be heard saying “Eric, we asked you to move, we gave you every opportunity, I talked to you nicely ...”

Matlock responded, “I didn’t do anything.”

It took three officers to remove Matlock from the stairs and escort him to the police car. One officer appeared to know Matlock and said to him they normally had pleasant interactions.

Speaking by phone Monday night, Juda said Matlock’s sign referred to an ongoing struggle with the Department of Children and Families for the couple’s daughter and Matlock’s son.

Juda said it wasn’t the first time Matlock has chosen to go and sit at City Hall. Two weeks prior, Juda said she and Matlock, along with about eight others, sat in a “peaceful quiet protest” in front of the door.

“It hurts. It’s hard for me,” Juda said. “I see them assault my husband for sitting there.”

Matlock was being held on $500 bail at the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction’s regional lock-up as of 10 p.m. Monday. Matlock is expected to be arraigned in Northampton District Court Tuesday.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the original. 

Emily Cutts can be reached at

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