Quincy Police arrested three people on Saturday as a result of their confrontation with an off-duty uniformed Quincy Police officer. Three news agencies described the incident differently. Boston.com gave the most details reporting that as off-duty officer was driving near Independence Avenue and President Avenue he saw "several people standing around, one of whom was holding a baseball bat in a confrontational manner." The officer approached and the man took his bat and left in his car.
That, however, was not the end of this story. Someone yelled that another man had a knife and the officer told that man to put his hands on his head. The man did so but "then became combative," so the officer "took him to the ground" and handcuffed him. Yet another man attempted to pick up a jacket on the ground near the officer, the officer told him to stop approaching, and then struggled to arrest him. A woman "attempted to interfere [and] when she did not back off" the officer sprayed her with pepper spray and then arrested her.
If the officer saw a man threatening another person with a bat, an investigation is not only justified, it is required. But what happened next? The situation appeared to be de-fused with the departure of the bat-wielding man. Is it grounds to ask someone to put his hands on his head because someone else said he had a knife? Having a knife is not always a crime. Was the officer going to search him? Or was he actually going to put hand-cuffs on him? Perhaps the man with his hands on his head was justified in being concerned (if not combative). Did the police find a knife on that man? Apparently not.
What about the man trying to retrieve his jacket? What's wrong with that, whether or not it was near the officer? The officer could have stepped away a little, or the officer could have handed the man his jacket. In fact, by picking it up the officer could have assessed its weight to determine the possible presence of a weapon. Was a weapon found in that jacket? Apparently not.
The prosecution theory must be that the men that were arrested were, in their individual capacities, acting in a disorderly manner and one of them (Guest) resisted being arrested for that charge. Ms. Duggan may have resisted her own arrest or interfered with the arrest of one of the men. In any event, in order to prove Resisting Arrest, there must be evidence that A) a person used or threatened to use force or violence against the arresting officer or B) a person used any other means that created a risk of injury to the officer. It is difficult to tell from this article whether the actions of these three reached that level. A lone officer, however, in a group of allegedly agitated individuals will be given wide leeway with regard to his decisions as to how to resolve the situation.
It is interesting to read other accounts of the story. The Patriot Ledger wrote that three people attacked the officer from behind as he attempted to break up a fight. WHDH.com reported that the officer stopped to talk to a man and a woman engaged in an argument and "several people emerged from a nearby home possibly with baseball bats." This article was entitled "3 arrested for possibly attacking Quincy officer."
Hopefully the truth will come out in the Quincy District Court cases. Each of the arrested would be well advised to obtain experienced defense counsel.