POLICE BEAT

Tasers, pepper spray, hand-to-hand combat no match for man on bath salts

Posted Dec. 28, 2011, at 2:12 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 28, 2011, at 2:54 p.m.
Tony Bartlett
Tony Bartlett

WASHINGTON, Maine — A man high on bath salts was Tased six times, pepper sprayed twice and kneed in the gut before police were able to arrest him Tuesday. He would have been at court Wednesday, but the Knox County Jail was keeping him in restraints, according to court clerks.

Tony Bartlett, 21, of Washington was holding his baby in a strange standoff Tuesday before being arrested for assault on an officer, endangering the welfare of a child, obstructing government administration, refusing to submit to arrest and disorderly conduct.

Bartlett’s girlfriend called in a complaint of a domestic dispute involving her, Bartlett and the 6-month-old baby boy, according to a police report filed in Knox County Superior Court on Wednesday by Knox County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Michael Sprague. Details about that complaint were not revealed.

When Sprague arrived at the Washington home, Bartlett’s dad allowed the officer inside. Bartlett then came out, the baby in his arms, and demanded the officer leave. He also blocked his girlfriend from leaving the home.

Sprague told Bartlett that he needed to let his girlfriend leave the home so that Sprague could investigate the complaint and the woman was freed. But on her way out, Bartlett slammed the door on the police officer’s foot.

“I turned to Tony and told him to give the baby to somebody else and that he was under arrest,” Sprague wrote.

Instead, Bartlett tightened his grip on the baby. This caused the baby to scream and cry “as though it was in pain and scared,” Sprague wrote in his report.

Because Bartlett wouldn’t give up the baby and seemed to be hurting him, Sprague kneed him in the stomach while Bartlett’s own father grabbed the baby boy. Bartlett continued to fight, so Sprague pepper sprayed him. When that didn’t work, Sprague Tased Bartlett four times — until the Taser wires broke. Sprague reloaded a new Taser cartridge and stunned Bartlett again. When Bartlett continued to resist, Sprague again sprayed him in the eyes with pepper spray. Then Sprague used his stun gun directly on Bartlett’s skin.

“I realized pain compliance was NOT working,” Sprague wrote in the court documents.

Bartlett’s father helped the police officer subdue Bartlett until more police came and arrested him and brought him to a nearby hospital, where he confessed he was high on bath salts, a synthetic drug.

“Tony apologized to me and told me that he was sorry for doing what he did and felt bad. He knew he needed help,” Sprague wrote, concluding his report.

CORRECTION:

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that officer James Moore responded to the complaint. Although Moore filed the report and signed it, officer Michael Sprague responded to the call.

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