Tuesday February 15, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- An aspiring cop challenged a Pittsfield police officer to a fight outside a city bar over the weekend, according to law enforcement officials.

Shaun Courtney, 24, a Pittsfield parking control officer, was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct in connection with Sunday's incident at the Home Plate, an East Street bar.

Courtney, who denied all charges Monday, is free on personal recognizance and due back in District Court for a Feb. 24 pretrial hearing.

Courtney works for parking superintendent Francis Annello, who didn't return a phone call or e-mail seeking comment Monday. Personnel Department officials declined to respond to questions about Courtney's employment status and deferred comment to the mayor's office, which directed all inquires to city solicitor Richard M. Dohoney.

"I can confirm that he is an employee," Dohoney said of Courtney.

But the attorney couldn't say whether the parking officer is facing any disciplinary action by the city.

"Employees have privacy rights that we have to protect," Dohoney said.

It remains unclear whether Courtney has returned to his job, ticketing motorists who park illegally on city streets.

Courtney was represented by attorney Mark T. Brennan, who couldn't be reached for comment.

Police were called to the Home Plate just after 2 a.m. Sunday for a report of a patron who wouldn't leave after the bar had closed for business.

Officers Christopher Whitney and Michael Murphy said they encountered Courtney at the rear of the bar, where a staff member had blocked Courtney from re-entering through a back door.

Bar owner Francis Mangiardi told police that Courtney stated "he was going to be a police officer and was on the Civil Service list."

When the officers confronted Courtney, they claimed he refused to give his correct name, first calling himself "Mike" then "Robert Horne." Police said the latter is the name of a dispatcher for the Pittsfield Police Department.

Police offered to give Courtney a ride home, while Mangiardi offered to pay for a taxi. But Courtney said he was "going back into the bar to finish drinking," according to a report by Whitney.

Police said the situation grew tense when Courtney began staring at Whitney's gun, then allegedly stated, "Don't worry, I'm not going to try to get your gun." Courtney then shifted his focus to Murphy, telling the officer, "I'm bigger than you. You want to tassle [tussle]?" police said.

After Courtney assumed a "fighting stance," police said, the officers cited Courtney's "challenging and aggressive manner" as sufficient grounds for an arrest. Courtney continued to be uncooperative back at the police station, prompting officers to halt the booking process several times.

Courtney blew a kiss at Whitney as officers attempted to take Courtney's mugshot, police said.