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Law Enforcement: Man Trying to Snuff Joint at Checkpoint Ends Up Dead; Attorney Accuses Police

A Worcester, Massachusetts, man who died after being taken into at a sobriety checkpoint near Andover last Wednesday as he tried to snuff out a marijuana joint was beaten by as many as 20 police officers, an attorney for his family said today. Kenneth Howe, 45, died at the Andover State Police Barracks when police noticed he "became unresponsive" during booking. The official version of the story, promulgated to the local media by Essex County District Attorney's Office spokesman Steven O'Connell is that Howe, a passenger in a vehicle stopped at the checkpoint, made "furtive movement," then "jumped out of the vehicle, struck the trooper, and fled." After a brief chase on foot and an "ensuing struggle," Howe was handcuffed and charged with assault and battery on a police officer. O'Connell said that Howe was taken to the Andover barracks, and, while being booked "slumped over and became unresponsive." He was taken to Lawrence General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:45 a.m. last Thursday. But today, attorney Francis King, hired by Howe's widow to represent her and her three young children, painted a starkly different picture of the events leading to Howe's death. Citing the testimony of the driver of the vehicle Howe was a passenger in, King said Howe was pulled out of the truck, beaten by police, and dragged before he collapsed next to a police cruiser. The driver has made a taped statement about what he saw that night, King said. The "furtive movements" were Howe attempting to snuff out a marijuana joint and put on his seat belt, King said. A female state trooper approached the truck, and Howe held up his hands and tried to explain that all he had in his hand was the joint. The trooper then reached into the truck, pulled Howe out, and screamed that he had assaulted her, King continued. "Our position is that he never assaulted her, "King said. Quite the contrary, se maintained: "It appears there were at least 10 to 20 officers all over the deceased, hands flailing." Howe was also "seen handcuffing and slumping to the ground, dragged over to the cruiser," she said. The sobriety checkpoint was staffed by Massachusetts State Police, North Andover police and the Essex County Sheriff's Department. It was stopping every vehicle for a "threshold observation" to check for impaired drivers, a practice upheld by the US Supreme Court. The Essex County District Attorney's Office is investigating, said O'Connell. An initial autopsy has been performed, but the cause of death has not been determined. Toxicology results are also pending. Police said they found one oxycodone tablet on Howe, for which he had a prescription. “At this point, we’re confident the Essex County DA’s office is conducting a thorough investigation and that they are taking the case very seriously,” King said. “I think it’s only fair to allow the DA to conduct an investigation.” You don't need a crystal ball to see the lawsuit waiting to be filed here. But that won't come until after the Essex County District Attorney's Office investigates and exonerates the officers involved.
Andover, MA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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As a former residen of Great

As a former resident of Great State of Vermont, fear of the Mass. Staties was ubiquitous. All those who ventured into Mass. to see a concert or visit relatives breathed a sigh of relief when crossing back into Vermont. Tales of beaten Deadheads were commonplace. Jack-boot prints may fade, but the fear is permanent.

Mokkie's picture

20 police officers

Do any of the officers belong to SEIU? don't stand for something. You will fall for anything.

Threre are no "good"cops. A

Threre are no "good"cops. A cop who thinks of himself as such still knows about all the criminal activity they engage in every day. If he tries to do something about it they will see to it that he gets a new career in private security(rent-a-cop) or finds himself without backup at a critical moment and becomes a dead cop. If he does nothing he loses the right to call himself a good cop
So there you have it, bad cop, ex cop, dead cop, no good cops.They have made themselves the enemy of the people instead of the protector we thought we were hiring.

Not Enough Information?

Shouldn’t there be video cameras in the police vehicles that can verify or deny the accusations?

Without additional sources of information beyond that of a single photograph showing four officers holding the guy on the ground, it comes down to what one witness says versus the cops.  A ‘he says they say’ scenario.  Most people will want to believe what the cops say because citizens don’t want to think that those they depend on to protect and serve them could be so disgustingly corrupt.  Thoughts like that make them feel insecure.

With the public at their back, law enforcement can often get away with murder, literally.  They do it time and again.  There are also many times when the cops are innocent.  And of course, the recently bereaved will feel they’re owed something for their grief.  There’s no way to tell what’s going on here without more eyes and ears.


Unfortunately, I have no trust in cops or what cops say, anymore

Radley Balko and Injustice Everywhere have made it abundantly clear that such trust in law enforcement is seriously misplaced. I will forever and always now believe the cops are lying when they say they didn't do anything wrong. As one who comments on Radley's site says, "there are no good cops", if they try to be good cops they either end up dead due to being put in a situation where they are outmanned with no back up, or they are removed from the force or forced to resign. Those cops who remain cops are those who are either corrupt or are silent about the corruption, misconduct and just plain brutality they see from other cops, which makes them as bad as those who actually are engaging in corruption, misconduct and brutality.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Heres an Idea

If we really want this kind of thing to end, we have to end this police state mentality. End prohibition, end violating our civil rights. Since when does it take 20 cops to beat a guy to arrest him? or 10 or 5 ? You cops have the guns and batons and pepper spray and tazers. 10 to 1 and all your weapons? For one joint? Talk about serious overpowerment! Its not needed.

Ken Howe

I knew Ken and there is no way he would risk assaulting a female officer when he was stopped at a road block and was surrounded by cops. He wouldn't have run just for a joint and they didn't find anything else so?!? This is BS that female cop should get the death penalty for what she did! Yet again another stupid female running her mouth and getting the men around her in trouble...and yes I am a female I just don't act like that!

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