Mass. cop hit on head with hammer, severely injured
A 61-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder
By Patrick Johnson
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A city police officer is hospitalized after he was struck in the head with a hammer Thursday morning in a disturbance on Fenwick Street, and a 61-year-old resident is charged with attempted murder, police said.
The officer, whose name was not being released to the press, was hospitalized with what were described as severe but not life-threatening injuries, said police spokesman Ryan Walsh.
The officer is a 25-year-old veteran of the department.
Police have arrested and charged Leon Moultrie of 35-37 Fenwick St. with assault with intent to murder, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Moultrie is a retired police officer. According to city records, he retired in January 2017 after 32 years and 3 months on the job.
According to Walsh, police were called to Fenwick Street just before 6 a.m. for a reported disturbance. When officers arrived, they saw Moultrie yelling and acting in “a volatile manner," he said.
Police have had some 20 interactions with Moultrie previously for various issues an erratic behavior over the last several months. On multiple occasions, police have had him sent to the hospital for psychiatric observation, Walsh said.
Officers were attempting to bring him to the hospital when he started throwing objects at police. An officer used a Taser but it had no effect, and Moultrie pulled the Taser prongs out of his arm and attempted to barricade himself in his house, Walsh said.
At this point officers kicked in the door to prevent Moultrie from harming himself or anyone else inside the house, when he appeared in the doorway swinging a hammer and striking the officer in the head.
Officers used a Taser again and this time it allowed them to subdue Moultrie. He was taken to the hospital for observation, and once cleared, was brought back to the police station for booking.
Police Commissioner Cheryl C. Clapprood visited the injured officer in the hospital Thursday morning. She said he was lucky the injuries were not more severe.
“Thank God our officer is going to be okay," she said in a statement. "but this is another example of why you will always have to have police officers respond to mental health or psych calls.
Clapprood said called it “flat-out dangerous” to have clinicians respond to mental health calls without police.
"The behavior of the individual involved is often times violent and can cause serious harm or death in an instant,” she said.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno issued a statement praising the restraint shown by officers. He expressed his wishes to the officer and his family for a full recovery.
“These are the dangerous situations that our brave and dedicated police officers face day in and day out. Even with de-escalation efforts, this is how quickly an incident call can turn violent,” he said.
Moultrie was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Springfield District Court.
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