|Police critic charged with assaulting cop||Sat Jun 16, 2007|
|Norman Miller 508-626-3823||Metrowest Daily News|
A local political activist said his arrest early yesterday morning on charges of assaulting a police officer and disorderly conduct is just the latest in a pattern of police harassment.
But Police Chief Steven Carl said anyone who behaved as Harold Wolfe did at 4 a.m. while walking on Speen Street would have been arrested.
According to an account filed in Framingham District Court, the episode began when Officer Greg Reardon saw a man walking on Speen Street not far from the Massachusetts Turnpike.
In his report, Reardon said he was worried the man's vehicle might have broken down on the nearby highway, so the officer stopped to see if he was OK.
"He continued to walk at a fast pace with his hands in his pockets and yelled back at me, 'Leave me alone,' " said Reardon. "I was quite shocked by his response, so again I asked him if he was all set, and this time he said to me, 'Mind your own business and get away from me.' "
Concerned the man might have mental illness, Reardon said he stopped to talk to him. The man continued to be rude and refused to identify himself, claiming "all that we (police) do is harass people."
The man, whom police later identified as Wolfe, refused to identify himself, saying he had no name and didn't know where he was from. He also took a tape recorder out to record the conversation.
At one point Wolfe asked for Reardon's name, and the officer said he shone his own flashlight at his chest to show his name tag. Reardon said he grabbed Wolfe's wrist because he charged at him. Wolfe then slapped the officer's arm away and was then arrested.
"I was just walking down the road and I was harassed by the police," said Wolfe, 57, a vocal critic of town finances, the police department and illegal immigration. "This was not the first time. This was the 13th time. It wears on you after awhile. Time after time, they've done this. This wasn't the first time and I want to make sure this is the last time."
Wolfe ran for Board of Selectmen in 2004, garnering 1,307 votes but lost to incumbents Charlie Sisitsky and Ginger Esty, each of whom had over 2,000 votes. His campaign was marked by accusations the town wasted money and should do something about illegal immigrants.
The police chief said Reardon did the right thing, and he denied the department was out to get Wolfe.
"He's imagining it. There was no harassment of Harold Wolfe that I know of," Carl said. "Reardon makes a lot of arrests, and he has never had a complaint. Mr. Wolfe is entitled to his opinion."
Wolfe denied he was rude. He said he told the officer he was "fine," and that should have been enough. He said he recorded his conversation to protect himself. He claimed he only grabbed the officer's thumb to pull Reardon's hand off his wrist.
"If this happened at 9 a.m., this never would have happened," said Wolfe. "Why does the law change between midnight and sunrise. I've been taking this walk thousands of times. Why do they persist in harassing me?"
The whole situation could have easily been avoided, Carl said.
"He could have said, 'I'm taking my morning walk, I live around the corner. I'm all set,' " the chief said. "Instead he made comments about not knowing his name or where he is from. We spend a lot of time searching for senior citizens who are missing and have Alzheimer's. He could have been in distress.
"What if this wasn't Mr. Wolfe, and it was someone else who gave those answers and the officer drove off and he ended up in a ditch?"
Yesterday during his Framingham District Court arraignment, Wolfe, of 65 Delmar Ave. , had a plea of not guilty entered on his behalf and was released without bail. He is due back in court on July 24 for a pretrial conference.
When arrested, Wolfe told the officer he planned to sue the department. He reiterated those intentions later in the day.
"After I clear myself of these charges, I plan on filing a lawsuit," he said.
Said Carl: "He's allowed to do that people can sue for anything."
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