Hector Nunez, the Massachusetts man who has had a running dispute with the local police department, was issued an arrest warrant Monday for maintaining a noisy and disorderly house, a summons that obviously stems from the videos he’s been posting on Youtube.
Otherwise, Haverhill police would have cited him on the occasions they showed up to his home in response to a neighbor’s complaint.
The arrest warrant stems from the second incident in which he refused to open the door to police who were banging on his door, insisting on checking on the welfare of his girlfriend.
He finally opened the door more than 40 minutes later after a couple of his relatives arrived.
The officer standing at the door seemed cordial, not even raising a fuss about being video recorded. He told them he was responding to a neighbor’s complaint about a disturbance, saying that it mostly likely took place because the walls of his apartment were thin.
The officer then went on his way and Nunez posted the video on Youtube.
Today, exactly one week after the video was posted on Photography is Not a Crime, Nunez and his girlfriend both received arrest warrants.
Now he fears that this will allow authorities to take away their one-year-old child.
Nunez previously referred to his girlfriend as his wife, but they are not legally married.
“I call her my wife because we’ve been together for three years,” he said in a phone interview with Photography is Not a Crime Monday night.
“She’s my only gal.”
Nunez said he has had a long-running conflict with his downstairs neighbor, who is also the building’s manager, stemming from some repairs the manager refused to make in his apartment.
So the neighbor calls the cops on him on a regular basis.
Two weeks ago, police banged on his door in response to another disturbance call. Nunez opened the door and encountered three police officers who demanded on entering the home to check on the welfare of his girlfriend.
He told them they would not be allowed inside his home without a warrant, but if they wanted to speak to her, they could walk around to the back porch where she was sitting smoking a cigarette.
Nunez said the officers then barged their way into his home, knocking him down and taking a swing at him.
Nunez raced into his bedroom where he turned on a camera and began recording the incident.
One cop can be seen standing in the doorway of his bedroom threatening to arrest him for recording them, which is not against the law in Massachusetts as long as you’re not being secretive about it, which he wasn’t.
Police apparently found out they had no grounds to arrest him on wiretapping charges, so they resorted to something they think would stick; maintaining a noisy and disorderly house.
Massachusetts state law is not to explicit in what this offense entails, lumping it together with “street walkers” and “indecent exposure,” neither which seem to be the case here.
Section 53. (a) Common night walkers, common street walkers, both male and female, persons who with offensive and disorderly acts or language accost or annoy persons of the opposite sex, lewd, wanton and lascivious persons in speech or behavior, keepers of noisy and disorderly houses, and persons guilty of indecent exposure shall be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than 6 months, or by a fine of not more than $200, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(b) Disorderly persons and disturbers of the peace, for the first offense, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $150. On a second or subsequent offense, such person shall be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than 6 months, or by a fine of not more than $200, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
The above statute is essentially a disorderly conduct charge, according to a website that defines disorderly conduct statutes in each state.
The Disorderly Conduct explains that one must have used language that involves violent behavior or threats for the charges to stick, which doesn’t appear to be the story in Nunez’s case.
The language of the law “offensive and disorderly acts” provides no description of what types of actions fall into this category. Massachusetts case law has given some direction as to what is, and is not, a disorderly act within the law. In the case of the Commonwealth v. Peace Chou, the Massachusetts court ruled that conduct is “disorderly” when the acts or language involves violent or tumultuous behavior, involves fighting or threatening, or creates a hazardous or offensive condition for no good reason. (Commonwealth v. Peace Chou, 433 Mass. 229 (Ma. 2001)). If there is no threat of violence or that the situation might escalate to violence, the actions will not constitute disorderly conduct.
Likewise, the law provides no definition for language which does “accost or annoy persons of the opposite sex”. The same case mentioned above decided that posting a flier with the victim’s photograph and sexual explicit description was sufficient to accost or annoy someone of the opposite sex with disorderly language.
“Lewd” conduct can be the offensive touching of person’s breast or buttocks in a public place (per Commonwealth v. Sefranka, 382 Mass. 108 (Ma. 1980)). It also will apply to any sort of indecent public exposure. (Commonwealth v. Fritta, 391 Mass. 394 (Ma. 1984)).
The actual arrest warrant cites chapter 272, section 53 (I), but the statute posted on Massachusetts law website only mentions (a) and (b), so perhaps there is something in the books that makes more sense.
The listed complainant on the warrant lists Haverhill Patrolman Ryan M. Connolly, most likely the cop in the second video.
The arrest warrant states that Nunez and his girlfriend need to be arrested because “prosecutor represents that accused may not appear unless arrested.”
This seems absurd considering the penalty for first-time offenders is a $150 fine.
So I think it’s obvious police are responding in retaliatory fashion. Hopefully the local media will pick this story up.