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Fall River Police Officer Indicted for Excessive Use of Force

A Fall River police officer was indicted Thursday for allegedly using excessive force during four different incidents that resulted in three of the four victims being hospitalized.

Michael Pessoa, a 17-year veteran of the Fall River Police Department, was indicted by a grand jury for incidents in 2014, 2018, and twice in 2019, according to the Bristol District Attorney's Office.

He was arraigned Thursday in Fall River Superior Court on 15 total counts alleging excessive force while on duty as an officer.

"He is alleged to have used excessive and unnecessary force that resulted in injuries to all four victims. Three of the victims were treated at the hospital as a result of their injuries," said Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn.

Pessoa has been under investigation since March after the police department alerted the district attorney's office of the allegations against the officer. He was initially placed on paid administrative leave, now is now on unpaid leave.

He was charged with aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, two counts of assault and battery, four counts of civil rights violation with bodily injury, three counts of intimidation of a witness, three counts of filing a false report by a public officer and malicious destruction of property.

According to court documents, one victim suffered a broken knee while being taken down by Pessoa. Another was allegedly rendered unconscious and bloodied by Pessoa while being booked and held in handcuffs.

"We rely on police to serve and protect us. These allegations undermine people’s confidence in law enforcement," said Quinn.

Defense attorney Frank Camera called the charges upsetting and shocking to Pessoa's family.

"It's very difficult to be a police officer in today's day and age and we will say that these are fabricated charges that we will see it to its end and we will try this case," said Camera.

The city already settled a civil suit brought against Pessoa and another officer for more than $200,000.

Pessoa was released on $5,000 bail and ordered not to present himself as a police officer pending the outcome of the case. He's due back in court Aug. 14.

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