Lowell police Lt. Thomas Siopes listens during a nearly six-hour hearing in City Hall Tuesday. He was in command on the night of Jan. 13, 2013, when Alyssa
Lowell police Lt. Thomas Siopes listens during a nearly six-hour hearing in City Hall Tuesday. He was in command on the night of Jan. 13, 2013, when Alyssa Brame died in custody. See a video at lowellsun.com. SUN / DAVID H. BROW

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LOWELL -- The city began its arguments Tuesday into why a police lieutenant should lose his job in the case of a woman who died in custody after being taken in for booking while heavily intoxicated.

Lt. Thomas Siopes was in command on the night of Jan. 13, 2013, when Alyssa Brame allegedly went 66 minutes -- more than twice the required length -- without being checked on by an officer, even after showing signs of being severely drunk and then becoming unconscious.

Police Superintendent William Taylor offered scathing criticism during testimony that took up most of a nearly six-hour hearing in City Hall.

Lowell Police Superintendent William Taylor answers questions from First Assistant City Solicitor Kenneth Rossetti during a City Hall hearing Tuesday on
Lowell Police Superintendent William Taylor answers questions from First Assistant City Solicitor Kenneth Rossetti during a City Hall hearing Tuesday on Lt. Thomas Siopes, who is fighting a recommendation that he be dismissed in the death of Alyssa Brame. See a video at lowellsun.com. SUN / DAVID H. BROW

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
Taylor, who was not chief at the time, said Siopes lacks leadership capabilities and called it "inconceivable" that Siopes wouldn't have acted differently that night if given the chance, as he appeared to say in an interview with investigators last fall.

Siopes was asked in that interview if he would do anything differently. After pausing, he answered no, according to a tape of the exchange.

"It's unbelievable," Taylor said after the tape was played during Tuesday's hearing. "It's inconceivable to me that he wouldn't change his behavior."

Siopes sat stone-faced and still as city attorneys questioned Taylor about aspects of the job, typical police training and what should have happened the night Brame died.


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Peter Perroni, one of his attorneys, repeatedly objected to what he called leading or irrelevant questions.

Eric Slagle, the city's director of development services, acted as hearing officer. He will make a recommendation to City Manager Kevin Murphy, who will decide whether to uphold the requested firing of Siopes.

Video was shown Tuesday of Brame being carried by officers into the holding cells, being left in the middle of a room with her arms and legs spread out, and then left in a holding cell where she later died.

Gary Nolan, one of the attorneys representing Lt. Thomas Siopes, denied that Siopes said he would not have changed his actions on the night of Alyssa
Gary Nolan, one of the attorneys representing Lt. Thomas Siopes, denied that Siopes said he would not have changed his actions on the night of Alyssa Brame's death. SUN / DAVID H. BROW

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
In the latter two instances, she appeared to be unresponsive.

The 31-year-old died of alcohol poisoning less than two hours after being taken into the station.

Siopes was one of five officers found liable in a report released in January from the city Board of Inquiry. The lieutenant was the only one who did not accept a city offer for lesser punishment in return for foregoing the appeal hearings.

The Middlesex District Attorney's Office determined last year that criminal charges were not warranted against the officers.

The Board of Inquiry's report showed that officers debated whether Brame was sober enough to allegedly offer a sexual act to an undercover officer. One officer noted that Brame could "barely speak" and another called her "severely intoxicated."

When officers placed her on the floor in the middle of a room leading to holding cells, she appeared unresponsive.

But officers also went more than an hour without checking on Brame and failed to call for emergency medical help until after midnight -- one hour and 17 minutes after she appeared to last move in her cell, either voluntarily or involuntarily, according to the investigation.

Siopes allegedly failed to keep himself informed of department booking procedures; failed to summon medical help when needed; violated procedures by placing an unconscious person in a holding cell; and left at the end of his shift without informing the next commanding officer of Brame's situation.

"He completely failed to recognize his responsibilities," Taylor said.

The report also alleged that Siopes told investigators Brame "always" acted as she did the night she died, regularly being intoxicated when police picked her up. But investigators said tapes showed that in every other case in which she was booked at the station, Brame was able to walk to the booking window.

Gary Nolan, one of Siopes' attorneys, denied that allegation and other aspects of the report, including its characterization of Brame's condition each time she was booked. He also denied that Siopes said he wouldn't have changed his actions that night if given another chance.

The defense painted Brame as a regular customer: About a dozen arrests in the three months before her death, and 44 arrests in the preceding few years, they said. 

"She drank herself to death," Nolan said. "Just because she landed on their laps," he added, speaking of the police, "it doesn't make them responsible for the tragic results."

Nolan also denied charges that Siopes left duty early that night. The lieutenant arrived about a half-hour early for his 3:30 p.m. shift, so he left shortly after 11 p.m., Nolan said.

Such flexible hours are common, Taylor said in his testimony, but Siopes still should have alerted his replacement that night to Brame's condition. Siopes had told investigators he did not pass on information about her.

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