Brockton Police Officer injured after being attacked by mob while responding to 911 call for help

From the Boston Globe-

A Brockton police officer responding to a 911 call was overcome by an angry mob, a confrontation that sent him to a hospital with a concussion, cracked ribs, and a back injury, authorities said yesterday.

“That’s the difficulty of being a police officer,’’ Mayor Linda Balzotti of Brockton said by phone yesterday, calling the incident disheartening because it shows a lack of respect.

“You go out every day to every call, and you just don’t know what you’re going to face,’’ she said. “You have to admire those who do the job.’’

Backup officers responding to his call for help shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday found Officer Eric Smith surrounded by more than a dozen people outside 108 Pine Grove Drive, said Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz.

Smith appeared to be “cornered and injured,’’ yelling for his team to arrest a suspect, identified as Trevell Starks, 27, of Brockton.

As police looked on, Starks punched Smith in the face, knocking him to the ground, Cruz said. Starks then kicked the fallen officer as the crowd around him grew. Starks then began reaching for Smith’s firearm, Cruz said.

When another officer used pepper spray, Starks fled for the house, locking himself in a bathroom. Several members of the crowd blocked police from pursuing Starks, Cruz said. Starks eventually emerged from the bathroom and punched a state trooper, Cruz said.

Brockton Police Chief William Conlon said he could not recall an attack on an officer quite as severe.

“Sometimes they spit at us; sometimes they kick at us,’’ Conlon said. “This guy was in a rage. He was out to get everybody. He had no respect for anything or anyone.’’

In the initial 911 call, a woman shouted an address and hung up, Conlon said. Officers later learned that Starks had been attacking his mother over borrowing her truck, Conlon said. Starks even took a swing at his grandmother when she tried to intervene, police said.

Starks was arraigned yesterday on numerous charges, including two counts of assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. He was held on $10,000 cash bail, but an old bail revocation meant that he was essentially held without bail, Cruz said. Starks faces a pretrial hearing on June 29.

Three others were arrested, including Starks’s cousin, who said he was “just trying to get his cousin Trevell out of there,’’ Cruz said.

Smith made it to the police station before he collapsed in the garage, Conlon said. He was taken to a nearby hospital and flown to a Boston facility before being released yesterday.

Conlon said that respect for authority figures has diminished over the years, but that Starks’s behavior was “way outside the norm.’’

“Years ago, you wouldn’t even look cross-eyed at a police officer,’’ Conlon said. Smith “was responding to a call for help, trying to help this man’s family, and this is what he got in return.’’

About Attorney John J. MacLaughlan

John MacLaughlan is Massachusetts licensed attorney as well as a Boston police officer. John is currently assigned to the Youth Violence Strike Force (Gang Unit). He is a graduate of the Massachusetts School of Law with a concentration in Labor Law. He holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell as well as a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. John has taught Defensive Tactics, Firearms, Use of Force, Applied Patrol Procedures, and Police Response to Active Shooters to sworn police officers and police academy recruits. Prior to becoming a Boston Police Officer, John served for 9 years as a police officer in Lowell, where he was a member of the Police Dive Team and Patrol Rifle Team.
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