Eviction dispute turns 'ugly' on Bartlett Ave.

Thursday October 21, 2010

PITTSFIELD -- It's been a rough couple of weeks for Tony Beeson, a 32-year-old Pittsfield man accused of assaulting his former landlord with a bicycle on Tuesday.

Last week, Beeson and his girlfriend, Kristie Murray, lost custody of their 6-month-old child to the state Department of Children and Families. That same week, the couple vacated their Bartlett Avenue apartment and Beeson was nearly arrested for causing a ruckus at the county courthouse.

After causing a minor commotion inside the clerk's office at Central Berkshire District Court, Beeson proceeded to challenge a Pittsfield police officer to a fight in the courthouse parking lot. Beeson, who went to court that day to resolve a landlord-tenant dispute, wasn't arrested despite repeatedly challenging the officer, whom Beeson felt was discourteous.

On Tuesday, however, Beeson was arrested for allegedly assaulting his former landlord, who's in the process of evicting him from the Bartlett Avenue apartment. Pittsfield police said Beeson tried to gain entry to the apartment, which sparked a confrontation with his 43-year-old landlord, Lisa A. Crocker.

Beeson was locked out of the apartment, according to Rinaldo Del Gallo III, the Pittsfield attorney representing Beeson in the housing dispute, which is now the subject of a lawsuit. Del Gallo said he witnessed "99 percent" of the incident, and he never saw Beeson assault the woman with a bicycle.

Crocker said Beeson held his bicycle in the air "and motioned as if he were going to throw the bicycle through her vehicle windshield," according to a report by Pittsfield Police Officer John P. Murphy III.

When police responded to the 4:22 p.m. disturbance, Crocker told officers that Beeson had been served with eviction paperwork. Beeson and Murray removed their belongings from the space last week, according to Crocker, but Beeson continues to attempt to stay at the apartment.

Del Gallo said Beeson hasn't been evicted. That's a determination made by a judge, not a landlord, according to the attorney.

"[Beeson] was thinking about trying to get back in the apartment because, in his opinion, he was a legal tenant," Del Gallo said.

After police charged Beeson with assault with a dangerous weapon -- a bicycle -- and disorderly conduct, he "began to yell and scream very loudly," Murphy said. As officers placed Beeson into the back of a police cruiser, he screamed, "Why did you guys just punch me in the face?" according to Murphy's report.

Beeson was released on personal recognizance after denying the charges at his court arraignment on Wednesday.

Del Gallo claims Beeson has gotten a hard time from Pittsfield police ever since filing a civil rights lawsuit against a city officer. That lawsuit was filed several weeks ago in Berkshire Superior Court, according to Del Gallo and Beeson, both of whom declined to discuss details of the suit.

"Tony's loud and he probably speaks up for himself a little too much. But being loud and obnoxious is not a crime," Del Gallo said.

The attorney likened Tuesday's incident on Bartlett Avenue to a race, with Beeson furiously pedaling his bicycle as Crocker drove a van toward the disputed apartment.

"It was like that movie, ‘A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,'" said Del Gallo, referring to the 1963 comedy starring Spencer Tracy.

"It's a pretty ugly landlord-tenant dispute," he said.


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