Mark Richardson was caught on video slamming nineteen-year-old Michael Bergeron’s face into a wall.
While most people would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for such a brutal act, jailed for at least a year, Richardson luckily had a get-out-of-jail-free card.
He was a Seabrook police officer, after all.
That enabled the New Hampshire cop to receive a “capped” sentence, meaning he will only serve 21 days in jail instead of the maximum five years he was facing.
And he may not even have to serve the 21 days. That will be determined during his sentencing November 12.
The incident took place in 2009 but did not come to light until last year when the surveillance video from the jail was posted online.
The video shows Richardson and two other officers walking the skinny teenager down a jail hallway when Richardson suddenly smashes Bergeron’s face into the wall. All three officers stood over the teenager with smiles on their face after the vicious assault.
Prosecutors argued that the teen had mouthed off to the cops. Richardson testified that he had lost control of his submission move.
After getting his face smashed into the wall, Bergeron has trouble maintaining his balance, so another Seabrook officer, Adam Laurent, walks up to him and pepper sprays him.
Bergeron, who posted the video to Youtube, stated the following:
“Charged with a dwi and tried explaining that I wasn’t drunk and they could be out catching actual criminals. then after being in the cell for a while waitng for a bail bonds man I was taken out and brought in the booking room to call for a ride. after calling a ride I was told I could take my phone that I called from and my wallet. as soon as I grabbed my wallet from the table he officer with the glasses came at me saying he never told me I could take my stuff and choked me against the wall then tried to grab the wallet from my pocket. once he got the wallet and my phone this is what happened. there was no lawsuit made due to the fact I found a lawyer and the lawyer took the tapes and disappeared for 2 years until I finally tracked him down and go it back but now I think its to late to do anything with it even though I have a permanent lump on the back of my head chipped teeth and brain injuries but talking to a lawyer soon well see what happens.”
Instead of seeking the maximum penalty, the prosecutor in this case agreed to a “capped” sentence for Richardson.
Monday’s plea deal came more than four months after a deadlocked jury resulted in a mistrial in Richardson’s four-day trial at Rockingham Superior Court. Richardson’s guilty plea and agreement may put an end to the possibility that Richardson could have to stand trial a second time on a charge that carries a possible sentence of up to five years in prison.
“Mark has pled guilty to misdemeanor simple assault,” Richardson’s defense attorney Peter Perroni said yesterday. “(T)he plea is a capped plea, meaning if he is sentenced to any more than 21 days in the house of correction, he can withdraw the plea and the case would be retried.
“Mark took this action solely to be able to put this matter behind him as quickly as possible. For the good of his family, Mark has decided that this capped plea to misdemeanor simple assault is the fastest and best route for him to get on with his life.”
According to the Rockingham Superior Court Clerk’s office, Richardson’s sentencing date is Nov. 12.
The other two officers – who did not come forward and report the assault – were not charged with any crimes. But Richardson and Laurent were fired last year.
This was the second trial for Richardson for the same incident. In May 2015, a mistrial was declared after a jury was deadlocked on a verdict.