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Madison family accuses Ossipee Police of using excessive force

May 09, 2013
OSSIPEE — A mother calls it "traumatic" and "something out a horror movie" while the spokesperson for the town's police department welcomes any investigation into the claim that members of Ossipee Police Department used excessive force when making an arrest on May 5.

Despite being cautioned her best bet would be to contact the NH Attorney General's Office, Public Integrity Unit, a tearful and very upset Jamie Burkett of Madison wanted to use the Ossipee Selectmen's meeting public comment period to tell the chain of events that sent her son to the emergency room on Sunday.

Her son, Jack Burkett, III, 18, of Madison was arrested Sunday afternoon at Ossipee Police Station and charged with criminal mischief, though, he said, he is not sure why and hasn't seen the complaint.

Jamie Burkett recounted the chain of events in which Jack was driving from Madison to his grandmother's house in Center Ossipee Sunday afternoon. In the end, she said, he was falsely accused of hitting a police car, arrested, and then choked and kicked in the head while in handcuffs in the back of a police cruiser. Burkett sobbed throughout her statement to selectmen. When she was finished, that board again reiterated that there is not much they can do and she should contact the NH Attorney General's Office.

Burkett said she decided to air her complaint in the public meeting in hopes the selectmen could do something to take the officers responsible off duty pending an investigation and so that other people who are fearful of Ossipee Police will have the strength to come forward and not be afraid to speak up if they also feel they have been treated unfairly.

Former Ossipee Police Chief and current Ossipee Selectman Richard Morgan said this type of report is not one selectmen usually get. "Abuse by Ossipee Police Department officers is not rampant, I can assure you of that," he said.

Following the selectmen's meeting, Burkett, Jack, as well as Jack's girlfriend and his father gathered outside to talk further to this reporter to try to clarify the chain of events and give their side of the story.

Jack Burkett said he was traveling on Route 41 from Madison and came behind a vehicle. He followed that vehicle as it proceeded south on Route 16 in Ossipee. When he signaled to turn onto Route 16B and into Valuland, the vehicle turned in that direction as well. Once reaching Valuland, Jack said he felt like whoever was in the car was following him, chasing him, but he wasn't sure why. He said he then made his way back out to Route 16 and pulled off onto the breakdown lane. At this point, the other vehicle pulled up alongside him in the travel lane, stopped and then continued on with the driver never rolling down their window or identifying themselves. In the end, Jack became aware that he was accused of hitting that car and that the police had put out a "be on the lookout" for him, alerting all police in the area to stop him if they saw him. Because, as it turns out, that vehicle he felt was following him was actually an Ossipee police officer in her personal vehicle on her way into work.

Jack claims he never hit her vehicle and wasn't sure why the police wanted him, but he made his way to Ossipee Police Department where, he said, "cops came from everywhere." Burkett, Jack's girlfriend, and her little sister all ended up at the police station, too. Jack said he was handcuffed, never read his rights and never told what he was being charged with and when the police didn't believe his version of events, he was put in the back of the cruiser. Jack admitted he wasn't happy with what was happening and proceeded to bang his forehead off the plexiglass partition in the cruiser. It was then, Burkett told selectmen, two police officers "choked him out," "kicked him in the head," and beat the (expletive) out of him."

Jack was taken to Carroll County Jail where he was booked on a charge of criminal mischief and released on $20 bail. He then went to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion, sprained thumb on one hand and a sprained wrist on the other. At Monday's selectmen's meeting Jack had red marks still visible on the front of his neck and was wearing braces on both hands.

Burkett said her family will be contacting the NH Attorney General's Office as well as seeking legal advice from an attorney.

Ossipee Police Sgt. Robert King said Monday that an internal investigation has been conducted and it was found the officers in question acted appropriately and there is no indication of wrongdoing. King said he is confident that any investigation conducted by the NH Attorney General's office would result in the same outcome.

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