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Berlin Police face civil suit over handling of video incident

Berlin Police face civil suit over handling of video incident


New Hampshire Public Radio 

Published: 9/9/2021 5:57:12 PM

A hospitalized man who was video recorded without his consent by a former Berlin police officer is seeking monetary damages, claiming the police department failed to protect him and investigate the incident.

The suit stems from a January 2019 encounter between on-duty officer Phillip Pelletier and a man in psychiatric distress who Pelletier was monitoring inside Androscoggin Valley Hospital.

Pelletier took several images of the man, who was naked, as well as a video, which he shared via Snapchat with other members of the police force, and at least one civilian.

Pelletier pled guilty to privacy-related criminal charges and was given a suspended sentence. He was fired from the department and stripped of his law enforcement credentials in the state.

On Tuesday, the victim in the case, who is under the protection of the state’s Office of Public Guardian, filed a civil suit against the Berlin Police, claiming they violated his civil rights and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The suit alleges the police failed to properly investigate the incident, and that the department failed to supervise its officers.

“Despite multiple Berlin PD officers being aware of defendant Pelletier’s abusive misconduct, and despite a clear duty to report any fellow officer’s misconduct to a superior officer under the Berlin Police Department Policy, only one officer actually reported defendant Pelletier’s misconduct,” Anthony Carr, the attorney representing the victim, wrote in the lawsuit.

“Further, there is no indication that any of the officers who received the messages containing the photos and videos…and failed to report defendant Pelletier’s misconduct were disciplined for their violations of Berlin Police Department Policy,” Carr wrote.

The Berlin police haven’t responded to the legal filing.

The lawsuit states that following the incident, the victim in the case became fearful of the mental health system he previously relied on for treatment and is now currently an inpatient at New Hampshire Hospital.

“What was done to [the victim] has caused irreparable harm to him and robbed him of his ability to live independently,” the lawsuit states.

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