Officer on job despite charges

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A town police officer who is facing a animal cruelty felony charge and weapons charges after shooting a dog in Monson continues to work in the Police Department even though he was suspended after the October incident.

Patrolman Daniel E. McCarthy, 31, of 1 East Hill Road, Monson, had been placed on paid administrative leave by Police Chief Erik J. Demetropoulos. Since the suspension, Mr. McCarthy has collected $866.80 a week, payroll records show.

Although he was barred from performing any police work, he continues to work at the police station Monday through Friday. When asked this week if Mr. McCarthy is still working at the department, the chief said he does administrative work and manual labor.

Mr. McCarthy’s license to carry firearms was suspended and the officer was ordered to surrender all his weapons to authorities.

Chief Demetropoulos said Mr. McCarthy has been paid $8,686 since the incident. The chief said the arrangement allowing Mr. McCarthy to work for the department was deemed proper after the town labor lawyer, James T. Masteralexis, reviewed it.

Mr. Masteralexis “was perfectly OK with this,” Chief Demetropoulos said.

“Other police officers are in support of what I did; others feel I should cut him off — the old adage ‘you are innocent until proven guilty’ ” applies, the chief said.

The criminal case involves alleged weapons violations and animal cruelty charges after the full-time police officer shot a friend’s dog in Monson while off-duty. His case yesterday was continued to Jan. 16 in Chicopee District Court at the request of the officer’s lawyer.

Chief Demetropoulos said no other administrative action has been taken with regard to Mr. McCarthy’s employment status, but said considering that town departments are being asked to absorb an 8 percent budget cut, continuing to pay him until the criminal case is resolved is not guaranteed.

The chief said the town is not required legally to pay Mr. McCarthy while the court case is pending.

Robert E. DiGirolamo, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, declined to comment for this story. Attempts to reach Town Administrator Kevin J. Flynn this week were unsuccessful.

Mr. McCarthy was arraigned Oct. 26 and charged with having a loaded .30-caliber pistol unattended in his vehicle, firing a gun within 500 feet of a house and animal cruelty stemming from the shooting Oct. 1 at the home of Michael Morin. Monson police did not arrest Mr. McCarthy and said there was no reason to do so.

Mr. Morin, who lives at 26 Upper Palmer Road in Monson said Mr. McCarthy shot his dog, named Dakota, in the left front leg. Mr. Morin said the 7-year-old Siberian husky-German shepherd mix was recovering and he considered Mr. McCarthy a friend. Mr. Morin said he was not home when the shooting occurred; Mr. McCarthy, who is engaged to marry Mr. Morin’s niece, was there to pick up sheet music.

According to Monson police, Mr. McCarthy drove to Mr. Morin’s home, approached the house and saw the dog come around the side of the house. Police said that when the dog barked aggressively Mr. McCarthy went to his car, retrieved a handgun from the glove compartment, returned to the Morin house and, when the dog reappeared barking, he fired at a range of about 15 feet.

In papers filed with the court, police said they were unable to locate the bullet used.

An affidavit on file with the court written by Mr. McCarthy states: “I went back to my car retrieved my weapon as a precaution and headed back to the front door to double-check for the music. As I approached the door the dog began to charge out of nowhere. Barking more vicious than before. I tried to create distance. As the dog closed in on me I discharged my weapon once. The dog backed off, injured … I ran back to my car and called 911.”

Monson Police Sgt. James E. Boucher’s report on file with the court states: “I asked why McCarthy retrieved his firearm and from where did (he) retrieve it. McCarthy stated he opened the passenger door and unlocked the glove box to get the firearm. McCarthy stated he got his firearm to ‘create distance’ from the dog. I stated a car door would have created the distance needed to remain ‘safe’ from the dog. McCarthy did not comment.”

Sgt. Boucher’s report says Monson Police Officer Shannon D. Bingle said she has walked her dog along a path next to Mr. Morin’s house for the past five years “and has never had an incident with Dakota.”

Source: The Telegram & Gazette

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