Thompson Charged With Vehicular Homicide
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Joseph C. Thompson, 60, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges related to a fatal collision on July 20, 2018.
He is charged with motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation and a marked lanes violation in the death of Steven Fortier, 49.
Thompson, director of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, was arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court and released on personal recognizance. A pretrial conference was set for Aug. 9.
According to police reports made available Wednesday, Fortier was southbound on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle at about 10 p.m. when he collided with Thompson's northbound Audi sport utility vehicle.
Thompson and his passenger, Jodi Joseph, the museum's director of communications, told police that they were on Church Street and approaching south of the fork with Ashland Street when they saw a single headlight in their northbound lane. Thompson said he veered into the southbound lane in an attempt to avoid the motorcycle but believed Fortier corrected his direction and re-entered his lane, striking the Audi.
The charges were brought after the completion of the investigation and a show-cause hearing in May before Clerk-Magistrate Kenneth Chaffee, who determined there was sufficient evidence to move forward with criminal charges.
"Because intent is not an essential element of vehicular homicide, the defense of accident is not available," he wrote. "In hindsight, Thompson's choice to maneuver his vehicle into the southbound lane, rather than stop or drive elsewhere, resulted in the collision and the death of Fortier."
Toxicology tests show that Fortier had a blood alcohol level of .28 percent, or more than four times the legal limit. Chaffee wrote that did "not excuse the defendant's conduct."
The police report states that after the collision, Thompson told Joseph to call 911 and, after getting out of the car to check on Fortier with other unidentified people, returned to the Audi and drove with a flat tire back into the northbound lane and parked it in the breakdown lane with its hazard lights on.
Police arrived within a few minutes and found Fortier still alive but face down on the pavement in the northbound lane with serious injuries, including head and facial trauma. He had been wearing an open face helmet; his helmet, boots and vest were scattered with the debris from the collision.
Two witnesses at the scene told police they thought Thompson had tried to flee the scene. One said Thompson had attempted to move the Audi "in a rapid manner" and that he had told him not to leave. Neither could clarify their impressions to state Trooper Zachary Wood other than "they believed by the way he attempted to operate the Audi he was trying to leave."
Officer David Sherman, who wrote the report, said it appeared that Fortier had collided with the "A" pillar on the passenger side of the Audi, the part of the frame where the door attaches to the front end. There was heavy damage to the passenger door, frame and windshield as well as the flat tire.
The police determined that Thompson had crossed the double yellow line and was in the southbound lane at the time of the collision.
Third Man Charged In January Murder In Pittsfield
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A third man has been charged in the killing of 18-year-old Jaden Salois in January.
Dasean Smith, 21, is now charged with murder, carrying a firearm without a license, and possession of a firearm while committing a felony. Judge Mark Mason ordered him to be held without bail.
Smith was arrested in Pittsfield on Friday on a warrant following an indictment by a grand jury and becomes the third person charged in the Jan. 20 shooting. PReviously Carlos Pascual-Polanco, 19, and Chiry Omar Pascual-Polanco, 22, were charged with murder and ordered to be held without bail.
Salois, of Dalton, was founded shot on Edward Avenue, near Elm Street, at about 2:13 a.m. that morning. Smith is expected to return to court on Dec. 9 and the Polanco brothers will be arraigned in Superior Court on July 2 - previously they were charged in Central Berkshire District Court.
"The Berkshire District Attorney's Office appreciates the hard work and ongoing efforts by members of the Pittsfield Police Department in this case, and sends sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Salois," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said in a prepared statement.
Adams Man Facing Charges Related to 2 Break-ins
ADAMS, Mass. — Police arrested have arrested an Adams man thought to be connected to two break-ins earlier this month.
Andrew D. Allard, 32, was arrested June 14 after making his way from Adams to North Adams in an alleged attempt to cash in some stolen collectible coins.
The coins reportedly match those stolen from a home on June 9 and Allard is implicated in another break-in on June 11.
According to a press release from the Adams Police Department, police were first alerted after they say Allard attempted to place these collectible coins into a Coinstar machine located at Adam's Hometown Market. The machine rejected the coins, which prompted him to go to the front desk where store employees recognized the coins as collectible.
Employees questioned Allard, according to police, and he exited the market leaving the coins behind.
Officers conducted an investigation while Allard headed north to Walmart. North Adams Police were contacted and store management was made aware.
At Walmart, the press release states, it was reported that Allard purchased a Tracphone minutes card with the coins. He then went to customer service, where he returned the card for a refund.
Officers were alerted and Allard was confronted when leaving the store.
Upon further investigation, it was found that the coins Allard allegedly used had been stolen during a June 9 house break-in in Adams.
Allard was arrested on a charge of receiving stolen property. He was booked and held at the police station on $2,000 cash bail. He was scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Northern Berkshire District Court in North Adams.
Police say Allard also was arrested for breaking and entering into an Upton Street residence on June 11.
The homeowner's security system picked up the intrusion and an image of Allard was recorded, according to police. He was arrested and held on $1,000 bail until he was arraigned on June 12 in Northern Berkshire District Court and released on personal recognizance.
Lenox Woman Struck Crossing Route 7 on Friday
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An 85-year-old Lenox woman was struck by a car on South Street, Route 7, on Friday night.
The victim, whose name has not be released, was taken to Berkshire Medical Center by Action Ambulance with what police are describing as "serous injuries." The woman was initially treated at the scene by firefighters.
According to police, officers were dispatched at about 9:36 on Friday night to the area of 1035 South St. for a reported pedestrian accident. There are a number of businesses in that area, including hotels and several eateries.
The preliminary investigation has shown that just prior to the collision, a 2011 Toyota Sienna van operated by Linda Limoges, 53, of Manchester, Vt., was northbound in the vicinity of 1035 South. At this time, the victim was attempting to cross the roadway in an easterly direction, when she was hit by the van.
The Pittsfield Police Department Accident Reconstruction Unit responded to the scene. Officer Michael Silver is the lead investigator in this case. Those who may have witnessed the crash are asked to contact him at 413-448-9700, Ext. 596.
Video Leads to Animal Cruelty Charge For Pittsfield Woman
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are charging a city woman with animal cruelty after a video of her carrying her small dog by the collar went viral locally.
Police say on Sunday at about 9:30 a.m. they responded to a report of cruelty at the First Street Common earlier in the day. Police reviewed video evidence and witness accounts and determined to summons Melinda Alston, 44, to answer for a single count of cruelty to animals.
Police said the dog in question was observed and is in good health.
A video of the incident had been posted to Facebook showing the woman, police believe was Alston, yelling at the small dog before picking up into the air by the collar. The woman was confrontational with the witness recording the video. The video received numerous comments, shares, and views — and many comments had tagged the Pittsfield Police Department or called to report the incident.
Police Chief Michael Wynn on Wednesday afternoon released the statement regarding the charge.
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