Alcohol fueled arrests, stretched weekend resources in Oak Bluffs

Oak Bluffs was hopping over the weekend but not everyone behaved.
File photo by Susan Safford

Oak Bluffs was hopping over the weekend but not everyone behaved.

Oak Bluffs police answered 140 calls for assistance, made 21 arrests, and took four people into protective custody during a busy weekend of activities, including two big crowd draws, the Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament and the Portuguese American Club Feast.

The unusually high number of arrests strained the resources of the police department and those of the Dukes County Sheriff’s department. Police were called to disturbances, ranging from a street brawl involving as many as a dozen young men, to a woman chasing a man with a knife.

“My staff was overwhelmed,” Oak Bluffs Lieutenant Tim Williamson said of the high number of calls and the subsequent arrests. Even with extra overtime shifts authorized in anticipation of the weekend, Oak Bluffs police needed help from other towns. Tisbury police helped to transport prisoners to the Dukes County Jail in Edgartown.

Lieutenant Williamson estimated that in 90 percent of the arrests, “the common denominator was alcohol.”

In anticipation of a busy weekend, Lt. Williamson asked the sheriff to supply a van and a couple of deputies to help transport arrests, but the sheriff was unable to do that because of current staffing levels.

“We’re understaffed a bit, and that’s on top of the positions we’ve lost to budget cuts,” Dukes County Sheriff Michael McCormack said. “It’s manpower. It just comes back to the economic mess we find ourselves in. The Commonwealth is just not as free with its money as it used to be.”

Street brawl

At about 1:30 am Sunday morning, all Oak Bluffs police officers on duty responded to a report of a fight in progress on Kennebec Avenue. The first officers arriving saw eight to 12 men fighting in the middle of the street, with 20 to 30 spectators looking on.

“In loud, clear voices, we identified ourselves and commanded all parties to stop fighting,” Officer Dan Cassidy wrote in his report. “Several individuals began to flee, while others continued to fight.”

Two men, later identified as Andrew Larsen, 22, of Chilmark, and Christopher Chapman, 23, of Bedford continued to fight. According to the police report, officers were unable to pull the two men apart.

“Larsen (who is 6’1″ 210 pounds) had Chapman in a choke hold and would not let go,” Officer Cassidy wrote. “At this point, Officer [Jeff] LaBell withdrew his baton, verbally commanded that the parties desist and gave two strikes to the thigh area of Larsen.”

Both men were handcuffed and detained.

Meanwhile, other officers chased a third man involved in the melee. According to police, Benjamin Galvin 22, of Hyannis, jumped over a fence behind the Ritz Cafe, climbed up to the roof, jumped off the roof onto Circuit Avenue, and fled toward the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association campground.

Officer Cassidy joined the chase aboard his Segway, a two-wheeled self-balancing personal vehicle used by Oak Bluffs police over the past three years.

Officer Cassidy intercepted Mr. Galvin on Dukes County Avenue. Police said he refused an order to get on the ground. They subdued him using pepper spray, then forced him to the ground, where he was handcuffed, according to the report.

After all the combatants were in custody, witnesses told the police that Mr. Larsen had stepped in to defend his friends after Mr. Chapman, Mr. Galvin, and another unidentified male had instigated the fight by threatening a woman and her companion, who refused to move so one of the trio could urinate where she was standing.

The unidentified man struck the young woman, according to a witness. Her boyfriend asked for help from his friends Police spoke with a witness not identified in the report provided to The Times. The witness said, “Chapman, Galvin, and another unidentified male were the primary aggressors,” Officer Cassidy said. “He further stated that they just began to throw punches at people in a cowardly manner.”

Busy, busy

The police reported trouble keeping up with call after call through the busy weekend.

Late on the evening of Friday, July 20, police arrested Adrienne Hurley, 28, of Hamburg, New York, after responding to a report of a woman chasing a man with a knife. Police sought charges of domestic assault and assault with a dangerous weapon.

The charges against Ms. Hurley were later dismissed at the request of the victim, according to court records. In a follow-up conversation Ms. Hurley told The Times she was only trying to get in a locked bedroom using a spatula and it was all a “misunderstanding.”

Early Saturday morning, police responded to a fight at the taxi stand on the corner of Lake Avenue and Circuit Avenue. There they arrested Sarah Smiley, 26, of Medfield, and Sean O’Brien, 30, of Oak Bluffs. Police sought charges of assault and resisting arrest against both.

Police made several arrests related to underage drinking Saturday night. Police arrested Fiona Barry, 18, of Framingham shortly before 6 pm. According to police, she tried to use a fake ID to buy alcohol at Our Market. Ms. Barry will face charges of possession of false identification, and a minor procuring alcohol.

Also Saturday, police arrested Conor Coogan, 17, of Wakefield, after observing him walking down Circuit Avenue shortly after 11 pm with an open container of alcohol.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, a police officer observed a man steal a moped from behind Season’s Pub. They said he tried to ride the moped down Central Avenue, but they intercepted him, placed him under arrest, and charged him with larceny.

Late Sunday night, just before midnight, police responded to a noise complaint at 2 Nahomon Avenue at a “problem house.” Police arrested Michael Sladek, 20, of Ridgefield, Conn.; Andrew Arcelo, 20, of Ridgefield, Conn.; and Andrew Froncillo, 19, of Barrington, R.I. for being keepers of a disorderly house, and furnishing alcohol to minors.

Clarification July 8, 2013: This story was modified to reflect the fact that charges against Ms. Hurley were dismissed at the request of the victim.