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Viral video of NH student arrest leads to investigation

Posted Oct. 08, 2011, at 5:53 a.m.
Last modified Oct. 08, 2011, at 7:10 p.m.

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Manchester High School West
Manchester High School West

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Police are investigating a complaint of excessive force, after a West High school resource officer lifted a student from his seat on Tuesday, spun him around, forced him into a prone position and arrested him.

The entire incident was filmed and posted on CopBlock.org, an organization that advocates police accountability and individual liberties, and has been played more than 120,000 times on Youtube.com.

The organization encourages citizens to film police at work, and members have also chalked messages on the police station and other public property.

Police said Frank W. Harrington III, 17, of 363 Rimmon St., was arrested Monday about 11 a.m. at West High and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

“Today I got assaulted by a cop,” Harrington said on the video posted on CopBlock.org. In the video, an audible thunk is heard when school resource officer Darren Murphy spins Harrington around and forces him on what appears to be a tabletop.

But in his mug shot and a subsequent interview posted on CopBlock.org, Harrington shows no sign of injury.

“It’s an open case. The student’s been arrested, it’s being investigated and I really have no further comment on it,” Police Chief David Mara said on Tuesday.

The teenager’s parents have filed a complaint with the police about the arrest, Mara said. Police Capt. Robert Cunha, who is in charge of the legal division and professional conduct, will head up a separate investigation into the complaint, the chief said.

“We’re going to be interviewing everyone who was a witness,” he said.

In his interview with CopBlock.org, Harrington said the matter involved a purse he took from his sister. When confronted by a school official, he said he would return it at the end of the day.

Murphy joined the principal, and Harrington refused to give the purse to the principal, he said. Told he was suspended, Harrington used an obscenity to question why, he said.

The arrest was filmed by Harrington’s friend Michael Proulx, who is also 17. He can be heard arguing with a teacher who tried to prevent him from taking the video. At one point, Proulx said, “Are you thick in your head?”

“I have a freedom to do this; don’t touch me; don’t touch me,” Proulx said, resisting her while filming the arrest.

Later in a CopBlock.org interview, Proulx said he knows the school prohibits use of electronic devices in the building, but said he had a right to film Tuesday’s arrest.

He said school officials confronted him after the incident. Proulx said they demanded he delete the video, but he deleted a photograph instead.

(c)2011 The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.)

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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