Former Tisbury police officer arraigned Friday on felony charge

The Dukes County Court House. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

Former Tisbury police officer Kelly Kershaw was arraigned on a felony and three misdemeanor charges in Edgartown District Court Friday, in connection with her actions during a fire at her Tisbury home on the morning of May 9.

The court entered not guilty pleas for her on charges of hindering a firefighter who was trying to put out the fire, assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct, and threatening to commit a crime

Ms. Kershaw did not speak during her arraignment and shielded her face from news photographers in the courtroom.

Attorney Ted Saulnier represented Ms. Kershaw in court. Mr. Saulnier, Tisbury police chief from 2002 to 2006, hired Ms. Kershaw as a fulltime officer in 2004. Mr. Saulnier retired in 2006 after he and selectmen were unable to agree on the salary terms of a new contract.

Mr. Saulnier told the court he intends to file a motion for a change of venue, in order to try the case in another court off-Island.

According to police reports filed shortly after the May 9 fire, Ms. Kershaw repeatedly interfered with firefighters by trying to enter the house as smoke poured out the windows. She said she was concerned about a pet chicken inside.

Ms. Kershaw swore and screamed at the responding police officers who tried to get her away from the active fire scene, according to the police reports. Also according to the reports, she struck an officer on his arm, and she repeatedly threatened to kill both officers.

The felony charge of hindering a firefighter is punishable by up to five years in state prison, but not less than 30 days of incarceration.

Selectmen fired Ms. Kershaw on June 10 following a three hour closed door disciplinary hearing during which selectmen heard evidence of repeated violations of police department policy.