N.H. officer charged with DWI erupted after arrest

Posted Aug. 03, 2011, at 2:57 p.m.
Seabrook Sgt. Mark Preston
Seabrook Sgt. Mark Preston

SALISBURY, Mass. — A Seabrook, N.H., police officer charged with driving while intoxicated after he allegedly smashed into another car told arresting officers that if the same situation happened in his town, they wouldn’t be arrested.

When local officers informed Seabrook Sgt. Mark Preston that he was under arrest Sunday night, he exploded, according to a police report by Salisbury patrolman Timothy Hunter filed in Newburyport District Court.

“What about the brotherhood? This is [expletive]. Why aren’t you taking me home?” Preston said, according to the report. “If this happened in Seabrook, we would take care of you guys. This is ridiculous. You guys are a [expletive] joke. I am a 30-year sergeant and you are going to do this to me? Really? My life and my career are over. I hope you guys are [expletive] happy.”

After Preston was booked, police escorted him to a cell, where he erupted again, according to the report.

“Your [sic] not putting me in a cell right? I am not going into a cell. This is how you treat a cop?” Preston said.

He added: “This is not what would happen in Seabrook if this was you guys. We would take care of you. You’ll see. I will make sure we return the favor to you. You better watch out when you drive through Seabrook. You guys speed.”

Preston has been put on administrative leave pending the outcome of the case, according to Seabrook Police Chief Patrick Manthorn.

“He is entitled to his day in court and I know he’s going to have it,” Manthorn said.

Manthorn refused to comment on the statements Preston allegedly made. Salisbury police Chief Richard Merrill Jr. did not return a call for comment.

Preston, 51, was driving his Jeep Cherokee on Northend Boulevard a little before 9 p.m. Sunday when he allegedly smashed into a parked Kia sedan, injuring that vehicle’s occupant, according to the police report. Witnesses told officers that Preston identified himself as a Seabrook police officer before taking off on foot; he headed north, toward the New Hampshire border.

The Jeep’s lights were on, the key still in the ignition and Preston’s badge was sitting on the center console, according to the police report.

When Salisbury patrolman Hunter caught up with Preston, about a tenth of a mile from the accident scene, he was smoking a cigarette and asked the officer to get him out of there.

“As I was speaking with him, I detected a strong odor of intoxicating liquor emanating from his breath,” Hunter wrote in his report. “His speech was slurred and his eyes were severely bloodshot and glassy. Mark was wearing flip-flop sandals and as he was standing there, he was very unsteady on his feet and was swaying from side to side.”

The accident and Preston’s identification as a police officer caused such a stir among nearby residents, who converged at the scene, that police took Preston away over concerns about his safety, Hunter wrote.

“After leaving, officer [Patrick] Szymkowski later reported that over 100 people, most of them angry and irate, began to yell how Salisbury police were corrupt,” Hunter wrote.

Preston was belligerent the entire time he was at the police station, Hunter wrote.

“Throughout the booking procedure, Mark was rude, argumentative and continued to throw insults at officer [James] Leavitt and myself,” he wrote.

Officer Szymkowski also wrote a police report, filed in Newburyport District Court as well, which corroborated Hunter’s account of Preston’s behavior.

Preston is charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident that included injuries and crossing a lane line. He was released on $500 bail and arraigned Monday.

Preston is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Aug. 22 in Newburyport District Court in Massachusetts.

 

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