At the request of the office of the Cape and Islands District Attorney, Edgartown District Court dismissed all charges against Andrew Larsen of Chilmark in connection with a street brawl in Oak Bluffs on July 22.
The arrest came on a weekend when police were beset with calls stemming from large crowds attracted to the Monster Shark Tournament and the Portuguese-American Club Feast.
At about 1:30 am Sunday morning, July 22, 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.
Once the dust had settled, police arrested Mr. Larsen, 22, for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, affray (public fighting), and assault.
Also arrested in connection with the same fight was Christian Chapman, 23, of Bedford, and Benjamin Galvin, 22, of Hyannis.
Mr. Chapman was arraigned on July 23, the day after the fight, on charges of assault, affray, and disorderly conduct.
Mr. Galvin was arraigned on the same day, charged with assault, affray, resisting arrest, trespassing, and disorderly conduct.
Both Mr. Chapman and Mr. Galvin were later released on bail and face trial on the charges.
Within hours of his arrest, Mr. Larsen’s friends took to social media to protest the actions of the police officers in striking and arresting a man they said was only guilty of defending his friends.
Mr. Larsen’s arraignment was scheduled, then postponed, three times. On September 28, at the request of Cape & Islands assistant district attorney Laura Marshard, the court dismissed all charges against Mr. Larsen prior to arraignment.
This week, Ms. Marshard declined comment on the decision to drop all charges against Mr. Larsen, because the cases against Mr. Chapman and Mr. Galvin are still open.
Cape and Islands first assistant district attorney Michael Trudeau also declined comment on the specific case, for the same reason. He explained, in general terms, the process of dismissing charges prior to arraignment.
“There are circumstances,” Mr. Trudeau said, “where charges are continued for a period of time prior to arraignment. Usually there are some conditions set. If those conditions are satisfied, and if the interest of justice is served by not going forward, the charges are dismissed prior to arraignment.”
Mr. Larsen could not be reached for comment.
According to the police report, when the first officers arrived at the scene, there were about a dozen people fighting on Kennebec Avenue. Mr. Larsen was holding Mr. Chapman to the ground.
“Larsen (who is 6’1″ 210 pounds) had Chapman in a choke hold and would not let go,” Oak Bluffs police officer Dan Cassidy wrote in his report. “At this point, Officer [Jeff] LaBell withdrew his baton, verbally commanded that the parties desist and gave two strikes to the thigh area.” Oak Bluffs police detective Nick Curelli also used his baton to separate the two combatants.
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, who included Mr. Larsen.
According to Officer Cassidy’s report, the witness said the trio were the aggressors and “further stated that they just began to throw punches at people in a cowardly manner.”
Police said after a thorough review of the use of force, the officers acted appropriately, and according to their training.
In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Oak Bluffs Police Chief Erik Blake said his department discussed the cases at length with prosecutors and disagreed with the Cape and Islands district attorney’s decision to dismiss charges against Mr. Larsen.
“It’s my position that the assault and battery (against Mr. Larsen) could have been dismissed,” Chief Blake said. “But we wanted to go forward with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.”