Trump protesters may sue Pittsfield fighter Todd Poulton over incident at rally
This story has been modified to reflect that Poulton was knocked down in his fight with Jose Canseco.
PITTSFIELD — While city native Todd "The Punisher" Poulton bragged in the media about confronting two protesters at a recent Donald Trump rally in Nashua, N.H., he could find himself on the receiving end of punishment for his actions.
Benjamin and David, 21-year-olds from Methuen, are considering filing a lawsuit against Poulton, who they allege assaulted them.
Attending the recent rally for "entertainment," the pair found themselves set upon by Poulton — who tops 250 pounds and sports a Mike Tyson-style facial tattoo — when they interrupted Trump's speech with cries of "Fascist!"
"I expected we were going to get kicked out," Benjamin told the Eagle, "but I also assumed everyone was going to be an adult about it."
He added, "The simple fact is, I had the right of freedom of speech to express my opinion and this guy assaulted me for it, which he had no right to do. If this had happened anywhere other than a Trump rally, [Poulton] would have been arrested and put on probation."
Benjamin, David and Benjamin's father, Scott, all spoke to The Eagle recently about the event and its aftermath, but wished to keep their last names anonymous.
"We're still considering [legal action against Poulton]," Scott said.
An employee of the Nashua Police records department on Friday confirmed that Poulton "is a suspect" and police are "talking to both parties trying to work together on a peaceful resolution."
In a video recording of the Trump rally, Poulton can be seen rushing up several rows of bleachers at Pennichuck Middle School, where he strikes and pushes down Benjamin, who falls down along with his friend, David. Police arrive on short order to escort the two young men out of the gymnasium. Led by Trump, the crowd chants "USA" as the men are ushered out.
Poulton was permitted to stay for the remainder of the rally.
The event made international headlines as one of a growing number of physical ejections of protesters from Trump properties and rallies. The most prominent saw a protester in Alabama get kicked and punched by Trump supporters after he shouted "Black Lives Matter."
"Maybe he should have been roughed up," Trump later told Fox News.
Poulton, 51, achieved celebrity status winning two title on the Celebrity Boxing circuit under "The Punisher" moniker before being knocked down by Major League Baseball slugger-turned-fighter Jose Canseco.
The Crane Avenue resident told The Eagle he sought to "contain" a "dangerous" situation created by the pair's interruption, and that he thinks freedom of speech should not protect "rude and obnoxious" behavior.
Poulton and a second celebrity boxer, Anthony 'Stallone' Patanella, then proudly declared themselves "unofficial bodyguards" of the real estate mogul and Republican frontrunner for the presidential nomination.
A distinctly different narrative emerged when Benjamin and David on several occasions spoke to Nashua Police about options on how to proceed, the pair said in an Eagle interview.
In the immediate aftermath, infuriated by Poulton's actions, Benjamin and David sought out police, who allegedly told them "nobody saw anything" — several officers can be seen in the direct area in the video — and "nothing" could be done.
Then the video showing the altercation emerged.
After Benjamin called police again, Poulton was asked to come in for a video-recorded interview, during which he told officers he was "remorseful" for his actions, Benjamin said, recounting the police description of Poulton's statement. He told police "he was a broken man suffering mental illness and asking for my contact information so he could write me a letter of apology."
Officers also said that Poulton had been banned from attending any more Trump rallies and that they would transmit his apology letter, according to Benjamin. An apology letter has not yet surfaced.
Police declined to release information about that statement to The Eagle.
At that point, Benjamin decided to let the matter go. That is, until he began reading media accounts of Poulton defending — even boasting about — his actions and calling himself Trump's "unofficial bodyguard."
Benjamin and David disputed the account Poulton gave to The Eagle, in which he said people in the audience near them were not frightened by the disturbance they caused, and the situation was far from "dangerous."
They said they were surrounded mostly by "nice old people" who at first viewed them suspiciously — David has long hair — but came to like them after some conversation.
"There was a very sizable contingent of people like us who were there to laugh and watch the circus," Benjamin said.
Added David, "It was like a miniature version of the Nuremberg Rallies," he said, referring to Nazi propaganda events. "They were all chanting 'USA' as we were escorted out."
As expected, the two interrupted the rally, but people were not surprised until Poulton came in using physical force to subdue the protesters, while shouting threats of further violence against them, Benjamin said.
Now, Scott and Benjamin again are contemplating a lawsuit.
What's more, Scott attended a Trump rally — in the same spirit as Benjamin and David earlier did — last Monday in Lowell, where he saw Poulton pumping his fists and cheering.
Scott said he approached the imposing man with the large facial tattoo.
"I was so shocked to see him, because I was told by Nashua Police he was not supposed to be at any rally," Scott said. "I introduced myself, told him 'You he assaulted my son last week,' and said 'We're probably going to be coming after you.' "
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