New Bedford police officers put on suspension for “very poor” handling of city councilor car crash

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WLNE) – Three New Bedford police officers are suspended without pay following an internal investigation into City Councilor Hugh Dunn’s crash back in May.

A 140-page report details the moments that led up to the crash and the moments following.

Records signed by investigators within the Police Department’s Division of Professional Standards state, “It is obvious that Officer Abraham Nazario, Officer Jesse Branagan, and Officer Algimantas Harrell did not perform their duties properly on Sunday, May 1st, 2021.”

On May 1st, City Councilor Hugh Dunn was taken to the hospital after a car crash. According to witness testimony noted in the report, Dunn hit a car in the parking lot, hit a sign, left the parking lot, hit another car, and attempted to drive off on his rim leaving 360 feet of marks on the ground.

An interview with a bartender at Cork Wine and Tapas told police that Dunn was at the restaurant until around 1:00 a.m. and had six Tito sodas and a shot of liquor before getting behind the wheel.

The internal investigation claims that the three officers, seasoned with several years of experience, failed to ask the most basic questions and did not follow up with Dunn at the hospital.

The internal report said, “Not one officer inquired as to where Mr. Dunn was coming from or where he was going. No citation was issued to Mr. Dunn even though he struck 2 parked cars and a sign and then attempted to leave the scene.”

ABC 6 News reached out to New Bedford Police Chief Paul Oliveira, who said in a statement:

“I am disappointed that the failure to properly investigate the accident or charge the operator involved with any violation has in part, diminished the public’s trust in our department. With the conclusion of this matter, I am hopeful that we can move forward and refocus on the positive work our officers do around the clock to serve and protect the public’s safety.”

The Mayor of New Bedford, Jon Mitchell, also responded to ABC 6 News’ request for comment. In a statement he said:

“I’m disappointed of course in the conduct of the officers who responded to the incident, but it is reassuring that the Police Department completed a timely, fair and thorough investigation that led to appropriate discipline.  Maintaining internal accountability is the foundation of public trust, which is essential to effective policing.”

ABC 6 News did reach out to City Councilor Hugh Dunn for comment. We have not yet heard back.

Dunn is up for reelection this fall and is running unopposed.

Categories: Massachusetts, New Bedford, News