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Westminster Officer Placed on Paid Leave Amid Assault, Strangulation Charges Against Family Member

Richard Michel, 46, of Westminster, was released after his arraignment and ordered to not have contact with victim and to not possess firearms

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A Massachusetts police officer accused of assaulting and strangling a family member has been placed on paid leave.

Richard Michel, 46, of Westminster, was arraigned Wednesday in Gardner District Court on charges of assault and battery on a family member; assault and battery with a dangerous weapon; strangulation or suffocation; destruction of property; breaking and entering in the nighttime for a felony; and intimidation of a witness, according to the Worcester District Attorney's Office.

The assistant district attorney asked for a dangerousness hearing but the judge in the case found the Michel was not dangerous and released him. It's unclear if he had a bail amount.

As conditions of his release, Michel was ordered not to have contact with witnesses, abide by the victim’s restraining order, refrain from using excessive amounts of alcohol, and not to possess any firearms.

Westminster police said Michel has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

"The Westminster Police Department is committed to zero tolerance for violence, especially domestic violence and this is a very serious incident," the department said in a statement.

Michel is due back in court Feb. 19 for a pre-trial conference. It's unclear if he has an attorney.

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