A Wareham Police officer on suspension admitted to sufficient facts Monday in Edgartown District Court on a charge of assault and battery, amended down from assault and battery on an elder or disabled person.
Ryan Turner, 40, of Taunton, was given a continuation without a finding for one year, probation, and an anger management class order following a 2019 violent incident inside Sharky’s Cantina in Edgartown.
A summary of the facts read to the court by Cape and Islands Assistant District Attorney Matt Palazzolo indicated Turner and a group of family members he was with encountered another group of people inside Sharky’s on Sept. 5, 2019. A person from the other group made a comment about Turner’s approximately 2-year-old niece, Palazzolo said, “saying that she looked like Elton John based on her glasses.”
Palazzolo went on to say, “A little time later the defendant’s party was leaving. At which time this defendant’s mother, and the mother of the young girl, confronts the victim’s friend. At this point, the friend states that he has a light blue pill for her, basically making reference to sexual assault.”
It’s not entirely clear how the pill equates to a sexual reference save for the fact Viagra is blue in color.
Palazzolo said thereafter violence occurred, including the assault of the victim.
It was later specified the victim had a drink knocked out of his hand and was punched in the head. An exacerbating factor in the seriousness of the assault was, according to Palazzolo, that the victim had previously undergone brain surgery.
Palazzolo made clear that the person whom Turner punched and the person who made the Elton John comment were different people in the same group — essentially Turner struck the wrong person.
Turner’s attorney, Kevin Reddington, argued for anger management classes for his client. “He’s been employed for a number of years as a Wareham Police officer,” Reddington said. “He’s presently under suspension because of this case — likely will be discharged permanently because of this case.”
Reddington said Turner has been working as a project supervisor for a construction company.
In an apparent effort to point to mitigating circumstances, Reddington said “salacious comments” added fuel to the situation at Sharky’s that day.
“He’s accepted responsibility,” Reddington said. “He has no record whatsoever, obviously.”
Judge Benjamin Barnes pointed out Turner was involved in a similar altercation in 2003, a case that was dismissed in Taunton District Court, but included pretrial probation. Judge Barnes said it therefore wasn’t an isolated incident, and asked why Turner would be a good candidate for anger management.
“Because anger management obviously deals with a person who acts out of anger — unable to control himself,” Reddington said. He added no problems have come up for his client “whatsoever” since the incident Judge Barnes mentioned, and that his client works a long day and “takes care of his family.”
Turner was ordered to pay a $50 victim witness fee, but probation fees were waived.
Edgartown Police reports obtained by The Times describe a “young girl (approx. 2 years old) with very thick glasses” who was the recipient of a remark by one of the victim’s group. That person “in a comedic tone commented that the young child looked like the daughter of Elton John.” The girl was described in another report as being 8 months old.
Ryan Turner and his brother, Seth Turner, and others in their group were described in various reports as “very large men” and “big dudes, even the smallest of them” and “gigantic guys.”
Ryan Turner was described in a report as “6’4, 275 lbs.,” and Seth Turner as “6’4, 235 lbs.” approximately.
Police were able to track down Turner because somebody got a phone photo of one or more of the vehicles they left Sharky’s in.
When an officer came to the house the Turners were staying in, Seth Turner allegedly told the officer he shoved another member of the victim’s party but didn’t punch the victim. One witness told police, per a report, one of the “big, big dudes” hit a beverage out of the hand of the victim’s associate and “then grabs [the victim’s] beer off the bar and ‘smashes’ [the victim] in the face with it, then dumps it on his head, grabs him by the shirt and punches him two or three times.”
A report indicates the victim, who was 63, had previously undergone a cerebral aneurysm repair. A report also shows that the associate of the victim who allegedly made the pill comment denied ever making such a remark.
Police later tried to get Ryan Turner to come to the Edgartown Police Station for an interview, a report shows. Turner told Edgartown Police he had been involved in an altercation at Sharky’s and agreed to come to the station, the report states. Turner later called back and stated he was trying to get a ride because he had “a few beers” and didn’t want to drive himself, according to a report. Police decided to go looking for Turner at the address he was staying at on the Vineyard. At that address, Ryan’s brother, Seth, told police his brother had “gotten on a boat and left the Island.”
Later, a Wareham Police lieutenant viewed a segment of security video from Sharky’s with Edgartown Police, per a report, and identified the assailant, who wore a white hat, as Ryan Turner.
Reddington didn’t immediately respond to a voice message seeking comment. A message left at the office of Chief Walter Correia of the Wareham Police Department was not returned.
In an email to The Times that corroborated what Reddington said in court, Dorene M. Allen-England, Wareham human resources director, wrote, “Ryan Turner has been on an unpaid leave of absence since approximately January 13, 2020.”