Holyoke, MA - Holyoke Police Officer Erik Martin was injured Friday, June 9, after suspect Charles Moran struck him with a vehicle. The suspect, Charles Moran, was later released on his own recognizance by Judge William Rota.
Holyoke Police Chief James M. Neiswanger is not happy with Judge William Rota's decision. During a press conference on Wednesday, June 14, he said, "Would it have made a difference if he had killed my officer?"
"It's obvious to me Judge Rota does not value Holyoke officer's lives."
Police Chief Neiswanger said repeatedly that he "did not understand how anyone who injured a police officer could be released without bail."
The incident occurred about 6 PM when Holyoke police officers responded to the Holyoke Mall for a report of a man, later identified as Charles Moran, inside the mall while carrying a baseball bat. Upon arrival, Officer Martin located Moran, and talked him into putting down the bat.
Moran had apparently been in some sort of argument with his girlfriend. No reason was given for why he brought the bat to the mall.
Officer Martin persuaded Moran, his girlfriend (who was not identified), and her child to go with him outside of the mall. He continued talking with Moran and his girlfriend, trying to help them, when Moran suddenly got into his car, which just happened to be illegally parked in a handicapped space by the mall entrance.
Then the girlfriend grabbed her daughter, and they each got into Moran's car. Moran suddenly backed the car up, and struck Officer Martin, according to MassLive.
In a video released by police, Moran can be seen backing up his car, hitting Officer Martin, then fleeing, with Officer Martin lying on the ground. Alerts were given, and Moran was stopped by Holyoke police officers on Route 5, near the entrance to I-91.
Charles Moran was arrested and taken into custody. He was charged with assault and battery, intimidating a witness, resisting arrest, domestic assault and battery, carrying a dangerous weapon, failure to stop for police, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, reckless endangerment of a child, and issued a traffic citation for illegally parking in a handicapped zone.
Officer Martin, who is a five-year veteran of the HPD, suffered torn tendons in his left wrist and a sprained ankle, according to Chief Neiswanger. It is not known when he will be able to return to work.
James Leyden, spokesman for the Hampden District Attorney, said that recommended bond was $10,000.
Chief Neiswanger said, "I want people to understand my officers do a great job every day. We need to have faith in the criminal justice system - and quite frankly, it failed us."
He also said that Moran did not have any previous criminal history with them. The Chief said, "I get that we can't lock up everybody but my message is we need to lock up violent offenders. A car is just as dangerous as a gun. A car is a 2,500 pound bullet."
Police Chief Neiswanger said that he had not asked Judge William Rota for an explanation, and he was unable to be reached by a MassLive reporter. He has been a judge since 2014, and was an attorney in Pittsfield before that.
Moran's next hearing is scheduled for August 16.
You can see the video of the officer getting struck below: