Rutland City police officer Nesshoever resigns
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | March 02,2010
Officer Michael Nesshoever
A Rutland police officer involved in the use of a crowd-control device on a shackled and incarcerated man last month has resigned from the department.
City officials said Monday Officer Michael Nesshoever resigned on Friday. No reason was given for Nesshoever's departure in a one-sentence press release issued by the department, and city officials declined in interviews to say why the officer left the department.
Nesshoever could not be reached Monday for comment.
But, according to Rutland District Court documents, Nesshoever was the officer who used a pepperball launcher — a device similar to a paintball gun — on a drunken man who was handcuffed and shackled in a holding cell at the city police department on Jan. 1.
Nesshoever, who was working the night shift during the incident, was assisting in the arrest of Jamek Hart, a 26-year-old Rutland man who police said was acting in a disorderly manner outside a Merchants Row bar shortly after midnight on New Year's Day.
At least four other officers participated in the arrest, transport and processing of Hart, according to an affidavit written by Officer Justin Souza.
But Souza said it was Nesshoever who used the pepperball gun while Hart was being processed inside the department.
At that time, Souza said, Hart was swearing at officers, spitting at a glass spit-guard that covers part of the holding cell and banging his head against the bars. Souza said Nesshoever, who was watching Hart alone for a period of time, called him for help and told him to bring the department's pepperball launcher.
After Hart ignored repeated commands to sit down, Souza said Nesshoever shot the incarcerated man with the device, which was loaded with talcum-powder-filled balls.
Souza didn't say how many times Hart was hit, but said Nesshoever aimed for Hart's thighs and buttocks. When Hart went to the ground, Souza said officers entered the cell and placed a spit mask over Hart's face and head.
Police, the city attorney, Mayor Christopher Louras and Police Commissioner Robert Ebbinghausen have declined to say if an internal review of the incident was conducted.
However, city officials did say last month that Sgt. David Schauwecker, who participated in Hart's arrest and who oversaw the night shift, had conducted an internal investigation into a use of force incident before Schauwecker was suspended from the department in early February as a result of a criminal probe into suspected child pornography on computers he used.
The deployment of the launcher would constitute a use of force, which by department policy triggers an investigation that would have been overseen by the officer's sergeant.
Souza's affidavit indicates that Hart was handcuffed and his legs were shackled during his arrest, but the officer doesn't say whether Hart was still bound while in the cell.
While the affidavit is silent on that point, Hart, reached by telephone Monday, said his hands and feet were bound while in the cell.
"If your hands and feet are shackled and you're in a cell, do you think you should be shot?" Hart said. "How unruly could I be?"
Hart said he was hit "a lot of times" with talcum balls in his thighs, buttocks, back and one of his hands during the incident and he said he has scars from the incident.
"Have you ever been shot with a paintball gun?" Hart said. "This hurts more than that."
Hart, who pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct on Jan. 4, was released from jail after posting $5,000 bail. His case is pending.
Hart said he hasn't sought any civil action against the city. However, Rutland lawyer Steve Howard said he has spoken to Hart and is considering legal action.
"We're exploring all of our options," Howard said. "From what we've heard, it sounds like a clear abuse of force."
Asked if he was concerned about litigation against the city, city attorney Andrew Costello said he couldn't speculate.
"We review claims as we see them and, until we see them, I can't speculate," he said.
Rutland Police Chief Anthony Bossi could not be reached for comment.