Pittsfield woman gets community service for punching officer during melee
PITTSFIELD -- A city woman who prosecutors say punched a police officer in the face during a March melee outside a local bar has been sentenced to community service.
Danielle Wendell, 22, of Kellogg Street, was one of seven people charged in a fracas that erupted just after 1 a.m. on March 15 outside of Johnny's Beach Club on Wahconah Street. About 100 people were leaving after the bar was closed early by staff members when intoxicated patrons began to clash with police, according to police and prosecutors.
Eventually, law enforcement officers were called in from the state police, the Lanesborough and Dalton police departments and deputies from the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office.
While Pittsfield Police Officer Cheryl Belknap was trying to disperse the unruly crowd, Wendell cursed at the officer and then punched her in the side of the face, causing a minor injury, police said.
Wendell was taken to the ground and resisted being taken into custody, police said.
She was arrested and charged with assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and interfering with a police officer.
Wendell, appearing in Central Berkshire District Court on Tuesday, pleaded to facts sufficient for a finding of guilt to first three charges.
The charge of interfering with a police officer was dismissed at the request of the Berkshire District Attorney's Office.
Her attorney, Mitchell Boraski, asked for a six-month continuation without a finding while the DA's Office requested that she be made to plead guilty to the charges and receive a 90-day suspended jail sentence with a year of probation and 80 hours of community service.
Judge Fredric D. Rutberg continued the charges without a finding of guilt for a year with 40 hours of community service.
Steven Huff, 30, who was listed as Wendell's boyfriend in the police report, also was charged in the incident with disorderly conduct, vandalizing property and resisting arrest. After being taken into custody he allegedly damaged a police cruiser.
He had his charges continued without a finding of guilt until this November and was ordered to pay restitution.
The cases against the other defendants remain pending.
Candace D. Mateo, 33, of Pittsfield, is facing charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, escape from an officer and two counts of assault and battery on a police officer and possession of cocaine. She allegedly fought with police and then escaped from custody after being placed under arrest.
Travis Altman, 26, of Pittsfield, was charged with two counts of felony assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly throwing "jagged pieces of ice" the size of footballs at officers. He was also charged with disorderly conduct as a subsequent offense, possession of cocaine and resisting arrest.
Lanise Robinson, 20, of Pittsfield, is charged with possession of cocaine, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault and battery on a police officer for allegedly pushing an officer down the stairs of the bar's porch and then kicking and punching him. Police said she also had cocaine on her that she took from Mateo as the woman was being taken into custody.
Kamarris Tre'rell Dewitt, 22, of Pittsfield, was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. A police officer suffered knee and head injuries when Dewitt -- who was Tased into submission -- was being taken into custody, according to a police report.
Brandon Eason, 23, of Dalton, was charged with resisting arrest, assault and battery on a police officer and disturbing the peace for allegedly punching an officer in the chest when he was being taken into custody.
They have all denied the charges against them.
Johnny's Beach Club, after getting slapped with a seven-day liquor license suspension in April, was forced by the city's Licensing Board to close by midnight for 60 days. The board has just recently allowed the bar to stay open until 1 a.m.
The owner, John Giardina, told the board he has taken steps to screen late night bar patrons.
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