TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) — A fight caught on camera in the Taunton police station booking room is the latest potential blemish on the record of a veteran detective who’s described as “decorated and proactive” by his chief.
A series of cases dating back seven years includes charges that Detective Robert Kramer used excessive force in incidents that led to dropped charges more than once, and a lawsuit settlement payout in another case.
Joseph O’Brien claims he was doing no more than sitting on a stoop in the Taunton Green when Detective Robert Kramer approached him on the night of June 1, 2014.
“I didn’t know he was a cop,” O’Brien said. “(Kramer) said, you know who the (expletive) I am? I’m Kramer. I’m Kramer.”
In the incident report, Kramer states O’Brien was the aggressor when he was approached that night, leading to O’Brien’s arrest for disorderly conduct. A short time later, a camera in the police station recorded the end of the booking process. The incident report states that after Kramer took off the handcuffs, “O’Brien immediately went after Detective Kramer.”
“I kept asking him, why are you doing this?”
– Defendant Joseph O’Brien
O’Brien’s attorney Ken Fredette claims this is one of several statements in the report that does not match the video. Fredette points out that O’Brien did not do anything “immediately” after the handcuffs were unlocked.
“He’s not aggressive in any way,” Fredette said, referring to the video that shows O’Brien walk slowly away from the detective after the handcuffs are unlocked.
Then, about 23 seconds later in the video, Kramer approaches O’Brien from behind.
“There’s the elbow to your head,” Fredette said to his client as they watched the video. “Turns you around, elbow to the face, he grabs you around the neck.”
Seconds later, the two are on the floor with two other unidentified officers in the scrum as well. About 40 seconds later, O’Brien is virtually motionless in the doorway, with only his white sneakers showing on screen.
“I remember just looking down at the ground,” O’Brien said. “And I was getting kicked, punched. I got knee-bombed in the head.”
Confrontation continues off-camera
According to a statement to a private detective working for O’Brien, a man in a nearby jail cell said the confrontation continued outside the booking room. Matthew Mendonca claims he heard the “sound of two or more punches” and that Det. Kramer was “out of control,” yelling, “there’s no cameras in here you (blank). Come on.”
“He’s screaming in my face. I’m getting spit on. (Expletive) you. You’re a (expletive). Fight me, fight me right now. If you fight me right now, I’ll let you go,” O’Brien recalled Kramer saying.
The incident report portrays O’Brien as aggressive, loud and defiant, and states Kramer ended up with scratches, bruises and a bloody lip after the scuffle. Medical records indicate O’Brien was treated for bruises, abrasions and a concussion.
“What I see is an officer who is out of control, bullying an individual who’s in handcuffs,” Fredette said. “And then to read the report, to hear the officer indicating he’s some sort of victim. I’m disgusted by the whole thing I saw.”
“While we are conducting an internal review of the (O’Brien) incident and those listed in the Motion,” Walsh said. “I have temporarily reassigned the officer in question to another position within the department.”
Allegations Have Surfaced
According to records obtained by Target 12, O’Brien is one of five people arrested by Kramer since 2007 who claim the detective used excessive force.
According to a statement made in court during a hearing for the O’Brien case, Taunton paid a $65,000 claim for injuries suffered by Celinda Kaye during a 2007 incident. Kramer alleged Kaye interfered with a drug-related arrest, but the charges were dropped in 2008. Kaye claimed Kramer beat her, causing “multiple facial fractures, (and) two broken ribs.”
In his statement to Target 12, Walsh said was the settlement was for less than the Taunton’s insurance deductible.
“The decision to settle was clearly financial and not reflective of the city’s belief that they would prevail at trial,” he said.
- Read in full: Chief Walsh’s statement on Kramer cases
Another case surfaced in May 2011, when according to court documents, Roberto Alvarez-Delgado claimed Kramer “assaulted (him) causing physical injuries.” According to Alvarez-Delgado’s attorney, the assault charges were dismissed on the day his attorney expected to get Kramer’s personnel file, following a motion that was granted by the judge in the case.
Also cited in a court document is the arrest of Ulises Saldana, who claimed Kramer threw him “to the ground and repeatedly kicked him.” Saldana was arrested for resisting arrest and is in the process of suing, according to his attorney Joseph Krowski, Jr., who tells Target 12 he was granted a motion to get Kramer’s personnel file.
“There are several complaints in the file,” Krowski said.
According to a motion filed in O’Brien’s case to obtain those same personnel records, a woman named Rosemary Jenkins “alleges abusive treatment at the hands of Detective Kramer.”
“Ms. Jenkins has hired counsel to pursue a civil claim against Detective Kramer,” the motion states.
Fredette points out that in two of the five cases in question, the charges were dismissed.
“It’s up to other agencies to decide what should be done with Detective Kramer,” Fredette said.