The trial of a terminated Fall River police officer has been postponed.
Michel Pessoa was initially indicted on the charges of one count of aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, two counts of assault and battery, four counts of civil rights violation with bodily injury, three counts of intimidation of a witness (misleading), three counts of filing a false report by a public officer and one count of malicious destruction of property.
Since the initial indictment, a judge has dismissed 4 of his 15 charges due to lack of evidence which included one count each of filing a false report by a public officer, intimidation of a witness, civil rights violation with bodily injury, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Pessoa’s trial was supposed to start Monday but has been postponed to early next year. A “Conference to Review Status” is scheduled for Wednesday.
The matter was referred to the DA by the Fall River Police Department in March of 2019 and Pessoa was indicted in June of the same year. Investigators from the district attorney’s office worked together with the Fall River Police Department throughout the investigation.
Pessoa was initially accused of using excessive and unnecessary force in four separate incidents. The incidents occurred in 2014, 2018 and twice in 2019. He is also accused of violating the civil rights of arrestees and filing false police reports. The victims in at least three of the four initial cases received injuries that required trips to the hospital. Concerning one of the incidents in 2019, a judge ruled that the prosecution failed to produce evidence that Pessoa’s actions were not justified when he broke a suspect’s nose which led to the four dismissed charges.
In January of this year, then Interim Police Chief Paul Gauvin stated that Pessoa had been terminated as a member of the Fall River Police Department.
“My decision to terminate him was based on the findings of a hearing officer designated by the City to determine whether Mr. Pessoa had engaged in serious misconduct in violation of Fall River Police Department Rules and Regulations. The hearing officer found substantial evidence that Mr. Pessoa had engaged in egregious violations of Police Department Rules and Regulations and that termination was warranted. These findings and my decision to terminate Mr. Pessoa have no bearing on the pending criminal allegations against him, which will be adjudicated through the criminal justice system.”
“The courts have determined that police officers voluntarily undertake to adhere to a higher standard of conduct; that officers must comport themselves in accordance with the laws that they are sworn to enforce and behave in a manner that brings honor and respect for rather than public distrust of law enforcement personnel. In this case, Mr. Pessoa did not adhere to that standard of conduct, and that is the basis for his termination.”