Alcohol fueled arrests, stretched weekend resources in Oak Bluffs

Alcohol fueled arrests, stretched weekend resources in Oak Bluffs

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

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.


  1. Andrew Larsen was brutally beaten for stepping in and attempting to quell the fight. He was also charged with a slew of charges. This was a great injustice committed by the OBPD who although were attempting to do their jobs, did not fully comprehend what was going on and beat and charged an innocent man trying to help.

    1. Ok Beetlebung, so let me get this straight. Somehow within your warped and delusional perception you think that if the the police are to come upon a brawl in the middle of a street and someone is choking another person they should just not do anything and say “Excuse me…why are you choking that guy? Oh ok, you’re stepping in to quell a fight? In that case, keep strangling him until he goes unconscious or you break his neck!” Give me a break and bring yourself back to reality. You have to view the circumstances as the police do when they arrive on scene. If they see a male choking another male their job is to stop that male from doing it and make an arrest. The police were justified in their actions. Police are allowed to use a reasonable amount of force to make an arrest and protect themselves and others from an attack. A baton strike is an acceptable defense against a physical assault. According to this article it appears as though the involved assailants were refusing to stop the fight even after being ordered by the police to do so, meaning the police were well within their right to use batons.

      1. You weren’t there, I was. The police did NOT identify themselves, rather they yelled stop fighting to Mr. Larsen while his back was to them. He also wasn’t choking Mr. Chapman, he had him in a bear hug. The police made no attempt to physically stop them, as their report would indicate, instead choosing to immediately pummel Mr. Larsen even after he was taken to the ground. If you weren’t there you should keep your ignorance based opinions to yourself.

        1. Ryan walker, so you witnessed the incident and I’m sure you were completely sober on Saturday night of Shark Tournament weekend while out in downtown OB at 1:30 a.m. (Sarcasm). By your post it sounds like to me that you’re friends with an assailant which makes your opinion biased and biased. And just so you know, even if the police didn’t identify themselves they are still justified in their actions. You are the ignorant one plain and simple.

    2. Well yes, it’s always an honorable and good idea to engage in street brawling as a means to quell drunken fighting… if you’re an alcohol fueled idiot.

      1. All of you people lambasting Andrew Larsen are essentially admitting that you would just stand by and watch while your friends are being attacked and beaten, and a young girl is assaulted. Never mind what the police did, I have my opinion on that as well, but I won’t state it here. Ultimately I’m just glad that I’m not friends with any of you jerks hiding behind a username to attack this young man, and that’s really the bottom line. You only get one chance in every scenario to do the right thing, what would you do if you were called to help those you care about?

  2. Anyone who knows Andrew knows he is a loyal friend with a big heart. He’s a big strong guy but certainly not an instigator or troublemaker. I’m not surprised to hear he helped out after a scumbag assaulted a young woman. Sounds like he got a little carried away, and should have llistened to the police but I hope that any charges are dropped.

    1. Yes the easy scapegoat, logical to blame the Shark Tournament with its alcohol sponsors forcing alcohol down onlookers gullets rather than all the people that can’t drink responsibly any night of the week on Circuit.

  3. I guess the cops must not have been in uniform. It must be legal to openly fight in the streets of the Vineyard. And officers on the island don’t have the right to “use the force necessary that any prudent and ordinary person would use when subduing someone”. Hey, this “buds:for you, cheers.

  4. It looks like the Beligerents fought the Combatants to a fare thee well..What in Gods Name did that guy do to that woman that she thought it was a good idea to pick up the Wustopf Knife(Fine Cutlery by the way) and proceed to chase him down the street? Where was he going anyways? It is an Island For Gods sake……