Dalton woman is not guilty of assaulting officer
PITTSFIELD -- A Dalton woman has been found not guilty of assault and battery on a police officer stemming from a Jan. 1 dispute in Pittsfield Police station’s lobby.
While Susan Prattis, 56, was acquitted on the assault charge by the Jury of Six, she was found guilty of disorderly conduct and was fined $100.
On the afternoon of Jan. 1, Prattis came into the Pittsfield Police station to make a complaint. She said she was being followed by police as she drove through the city and felt that she was under surveillance, she testified at trial.
Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Dana Parsons called Prattis’ initial complaints about being followed by police "delusions" during her final summation Monday in the Jury of Six session of Central Berkshire District Court.
Prattis said when an officer came out to speak with her, he "licked his lips" in front of her, something she finds to be "inappropriate" and "disrespectful." Additionally, she didn’t like his demeanor.
"He wasn’t very friendly to me," Prattis told the court.
Pittsfield Police Officer Andrew McMahon told the jury he simply told her he had to get a supervisor to speak with her and left to do just that.
Sgt. Mark Lenihan then came out to ask Prattis if she wanted to talk about her complaint. When she refused to discuss the matter, Lenihan then retrieved the form and gave it to her. He said she appeared to be "extremely agitated."
When Lenihan left the lobby to go back into the secure area, she followed him, was yelling and kept him from closing the door, he said.
Prattis said Lenihan also licked his lips at her and refused to give her McMahon’s name. She had decided to make a complaint against him too.
She called McMahon’s behavior "as egregious as the first incident."
Lenihan said he tried to close the door but was unable to do so, because she kept slapping his hands as he attempted to remove hers from the door frame.
"I thought the safest thing to do was to push her," he told the jury.
He said when he did this, she lost her grip on the door and fell down. She was then charged with assault and battery on a police officer and disorderly conduct.
Lenihan said he hadn’t originally planned on arresting her.
Prattis said she was not yelling and never touched Lenihan. She said she only held her hands on the door, that the sergeant repeatedly slammed her hand in the door, breaking her finger, and then shoved her so hard she went flying across the room on her back and hit her head on the back wall.
McMahon said he saw "a scuffle" at the doorway on the monitor and that Prattis was grabbing Lenihan. He believed she was struck by the door and fell down.
Prattis said she went on her own to the hospital for her finger and for headaches.
According to Parson’s reading of the initial medical report, there was no fracture, swelling or dislocation of Prattis’ hand.
Prattis responded that she was later sent to a specialist who said there had been a fracture and gave her a finger splint to wear.
Prattis’ attorney, Robert D. Sullivan Jr., told the jury during his final summation that the testimony of the two police witnesses was inconsistent and that his client was not guilty of either crime.
Parsons said Prattis was "hitting and grabbing the officer" and that she wouldn’t let go of the door.
"It was never ending," said the prosecutor.
The all-female jury spent less than 30 minutes deliberating before returning the verdicts.
Judge Paul M. Vrabel ordered Prattis to pay a $100 fine for the misdemeanor disorderly conduct conviction.
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