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Man says video shows police abuse; police say use of force was warranted

By Daymond Steer
CONWAY — A local man says he was abused while in police custody last year and that the evidence is on video. Police say their use of force against Adam Martinese was appropriate.
The police surveillance video can be viewed at The Conway Daily Sun's website, www.conwaydailysun.com, or on the Sun's e-reader.
Martinese, 40, of Conway, said the abuse he suffered in March is part of a long-term pattern that goes back to 2009. Martinese said he's been harassed and arrested by local police over a half dozen times since 2009 when a drug charge against him was dropped. Martinese said he's been successful in the majority of cases the police brought against him and the other case amounted to a ticket.
Martinese said since last year he's lost 70 pounds, much of which is due to stress.
"I cannot tell you what it's like to be handcuffed in the back of a car and thrown in a cell whenever they feel like it," said Martinese. "Terrible, terrible."
Martinese, a local barber, was most recently in court on charges he assaulted a Conway police officer and committed disorderly conduct during an incident at the Conway Police Department's lobby in late March, the incident that is on video. 
In the middle of Martinese's jury trial on Jan. 8, Superior Court Judge Peter Fauver dismissed the disorderly conduct charge, saying the state failed to prove the elements of that charge, and then Fauver dismissed the simple assault charge because the county attorney's office accidentally omitted some language in the indictment. The assault indictment should have described Martinese's mental state when he allegedly struck Clp. Sean McGrath.
"I have been through hell with the police department here in this town," said Martinese. "Driving down the street when I see them, I'm scared to death."
 Martinese's wife, Amy Martinese, said their teenage son and daughter are afraid they will be pulled over by police.
"It's had a huge negative effect on our children," said Amy Martinese, adding their businesses has been impacted too.
Amy Martinese said her husband suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from an encounter with police on March 29.
The events that led up to the March arrest began when Adam Martinese entered the lobby of the police department to complain about a violation of a restraining order that he had taken out on another person. Adam Martinese said McGrath refused to help him with paperwork. Adam Martinese was at the police department with one of his friends. The surveillance video does not have sound.
After an apparent argument with Adam Martinese, McGrath began heading into secure area of the police station when Martinese grabbed the door and demanded to speak with McGrath's superior. McGrath turned around and put his hand to Martinese's neck.
Police chief Ed Wagner emerges from the secure area of the police station, where he was eating lunch, holding a fork.
Martinese backed off but continued to argue with McGrath. During the dispute, McGrath put some papers on top of a soda machine and Martinese reached toward them. McGrath pushed Martinese away and Martinese appeared to strike or block McGrath's arm. Then Wagner, McGrath and another officer pushed Martinese into a sun room outside the view of surveillance cameras.
Martinese alleges police beat him up when he was dragged into the sun room — something the chief denies.
After that, police walked Martinese from the sun room through the lobby and into the secure area of the police station. Apparently, Martinese's pants came loose during the struggle because they sagged as he walked.
Then officers brought Martinese  into a booking room with his pants down. An officer kicked a chair out from under Martinese.
"I smashed my head on the booking table when they kicked the chair out from under me," said Martinese adding his ear became swollen because of the impact with the table. "My ear was giant."
What's more, Martinese said he had a cut on his leg and scratches on his back. He said he couldn't talk because police hit him in the throat. Martinese said he had to go to the hospital.
Court documents filed by assistant county attorney Brandon Garod say that Sgt. George Walker "was forced to execute a leg sweep" because Martinese "intentionally tensed" his body and "refused to sit down for booking."
Police Lt. Chris Perley answered a reporter's questions about the department's treatment of Martinese. Perley declined to comment on the verdict and evidence in the case regarding McGrath.
"All use of force associated as it related to Adam Martinese's aggressive, and we believed criminal, conduct, have been previously reviewed and were deemed authorized and appropriate under the circumstances," said Perley adding it would not make the police department nervous or uncomfortable if the community saw the surveillance footage.
Perley said the department and the county attorney's office has looked at the footage.
After the chair was kicked out from under him, Martinese said officers dragged him with his pants down, into a cell where he is left on his stomach. Then an officer removed the mattress from his cell.
Perley said stripping the cell is standard procedure when police have to deal with prisoners who are resistant, aggressive, combative or demonstrates a desire to destroy property. Officers strip the cells so that prisoners cannot use items to hurt themselves or further resist. Perley said prisoners sometimes use the mattress to bar the door or as something like a shield.
"That is common practice," said Perley of stripping a cell.
Adam Martinese said the rough treatment at the department last March aggravated his bad shoulder.
"I was screaming in pain," said Martinese adding he was in the cell for hours.
Amy Martinese said she could hear her husband yelling from the outside police station.
According to Adam Martinese, he could have been brought to the nearby courthouse and bailed but instead was taken to jail in Ossipee.
When asked if Adam Martinese has a case against the police, his attorney, Lincoln Soldati, said that's an open question. Soldati, a Portsmouth-based lawyer, is assisting Martinese in finding another attorney with a stronger background in those issues "to help determine what, if any, case is there and what it might be worth."
At trial, Soldati wanted to introduce more video than just the lobby footage. Soldati was going to do a Power Point presentation of screen shot footage all the way through to the time where his client is sitting in a cell. Soldati wanted to use it in his opening.
"It took him an hour using his teeth to get his pants pulled up," said Soldati.
The state objected to the use of that footage, and the judge agreed.
In paperwork, Garod said showing the footage of the leg sweep would be irrelevant, would confuse the jury and cause undue prejudice.
Judge Steven Houran agreed with Garod that the jury could be confused by the additional footage. Houran also weighed in on the leg sweep.
"The defendant asserts that the video of the booking room shows the police knocking him to the ground by having a chair kicked out from under him by one of the officers," wrote Houran. "The state asserts that the video of the booking room shows the police being forced to execute a leg sweep on the defendant after the defendant tensed his body and refused to sit down for booking. What the video depicts is not plain enough that viewing it resolved which assertion is correct."
Soldati said prosecutors didn't want the defense to bring in any of the footage after Adam Martinese was arrested and removed from the lobby area. Soldati said it was "rather humiliating" how they brought his client through the station with his pants down.
According to Soldati, prosecutors originally had a resisting arrest charge related to what happened in the booking room but they withdrew it.
"My belief is they did so because they would have had to have shown the video of the booking room or would have made the booking room video admissible," said Soldati. "Their argument was the only evidence that was relevant in terms of the video is what happened in the lobby."
Soldati was "a little disappointed" that the jurors never got to deliberate because he felt very confident they would acquit him.
"It was unfortunate the way police treated him (Adam Martinese), said Soldati. "We'll see what happens."
Soldati said he has "a lot of respect" for Carroll County Attorney Robin Gordon. He said attorneys Garod and Terence O'Rouke did a good job and described them as "young and aggressive." Soldati said prosecutors made some mistakes in the trial but Soldati said he wasn't perfect either.
Adam Martinese has lived in Conway for 15 years and before that he lived in Haverhill, Mass. While living in Conway, he ran a tuxedo rental company, a tanning salon and barber shop called Special Occasions. Adam Martinese bought the business from Wagner's parents.
According to Adam Martinese, there have been a number of times where he needed the police department's help, and officers ended up arresting him or giving him trouble.
One of Adam Martinese's other attorneys said it seems like he could get arrested for sneezing.
When asked if Martinese was successful in court on most of the other charges police have filed since 2009, Perley said as a matter of policy the department doesn't discuss the disposition of cases pretrial and post trial.
"If Mr. Martinese would like to describe the breadth and nature of his criminal past that is his prerogative," said Perley.
Martinese said at one point there was a threat on his life and a state trooper told him to get a gun and a concealed carry permit. Wagner denied the permit but was overturned in court. According to Adam Martinese, police arrested him because they claimed he had an invalid permit when they should have known otherwise. According to Adam Martinese the charge was dropped.
Perley said the end result of the Adam Martinese's pistol permit case was a permit was issued by order of the court.
"When you deny a person a pistol permit in the state of New Hampshire, if the reason is deemed frivolous or punitive, then the court can award cost and will award costs of the hearing levied against the state, said Perley. "I know the end result of the Martinese case is a pistol permit was issued by order of the court but no costs were levied against the state for the chief's denial and the subsequent hearing. That would tend to support the conclusion that the chief had a valid reason to deny but the court overruled it for whatever reasons the court deemed proper."
Adam Martinese provided a reporter with documents from the court showing that since 2009, the following Conway-based criminal charges were dropped or dismissed: drug charge 2009, simple assault charges in 2011, unsworn falsification in 2011, criminal trespass in 2013, false report to law enforcement in 2013.
Apparently, Adam Martinese has only been convicted of one charge brought by Conway police since 2009.
The paperwork shows that Martinese paid $248 on the traffic violations of "left turning traffic and fail to yield."
A reporter's review of charges against Adam Martinese show that Conway police were apparently unsuccessful in getting convictions on all but one charge the department has filed since 2009. However, he was the defendant in numerous cases in multiple jurisdictions prior to 2009.
After getting arrested on the 2009 drug charge, Adam Martinese says he decided to re-educate himself. He went to barber school on March 1, 2010. Now Adam and Amy Martinese run a barber shop on Seavey Street, in North Conway. 
Adam Martinese says he's enrolled in Granite State College and earned an associates degree in business. Adam Martinese says he's six courses away from completing his bachelor's degree with a dual major in psychology and business.
"I really, really tried very hard to turn myself and my life completely, completely around," said Adam Martinese. "School and family are the most important things I have right now."
The Martinese family wanted to move permanently to North Carolina but Adam Martinese had difficulty obtaining a barber's license down there, his daughter was at Keene State, they wanted their son to graduate from Kennett and Adam Martinese was close to finishing a degree.
"We came back to be closer to my daughter and to finish my degree program and that's it," said Adam Martinese. "I've got a lease here long enough for me to finish up and go."
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