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Lawyer for Brookline officers says stripper's chaperone started the fight

Posted by Brock Parker  April 2, 2010 04:10 PM

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The attorney representing four Brookline Police officers accused of assaulting a stripper’s chaperone outside a bachelor party Sunday says the chaperone struck one of the officers first.

"He struck one of the officers and initiated the contact,” said Tom Drechsler , an attorney hired by the Brookline police union to represent officers Daniel Avila, David Hill, Yu Kajita and Brendan Kelliher.

Drechsler was responding Friday to a criminal complaint filed in Brookline District Court by Robert Sonia, the chaperone for Lynn-based Shamrock Entertainment who claims the four off-duty officers assaulted him in the 1700 block of Beacon Street early Sunday morning.

Sonia, of Lynn, and his attorney John Saliba filed a criminal complaint seeking charges of aggravated assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a boot) and assault and battery against all four officers. The officers were placed on paid administrative leave earlier this week.

Saliba said his client “wholeheartedly” denies starting the fight. He said that when the off-duty officers identified themselves as police officers they went into “police mode.” He asserted that the encounter rises to the level of “police misconduct.”

Sonia was acting as a chaperone for an exotic dancer. He says the officers requested the dancer for a bachelor party before dawn Sunday.

When Sonia and the stripper arrived at the apartment on Beacon Street, the off-duty officers said the bachelor was no longer there, and they canceled the entertainment, according to Sonia's account of the evening.

Sonia claims that after he and the stripper left the apartment and were backing up in their car, one of the officers stood behind the car and was photographing the vehicle. When Sonia got out to ask what was going on, he says the four officers assaulted him.

He suffered a fractured eye socket, broken nose and a laceration above his left eye. Sonia said Friday that he was also kicked in the chest and in the side.

“I’m feeling better than I did,” Sonia said. “I have trouble breathing.”

But Drechsler said Sonia initiated the physical confrontation when he struck one of the officers first, and it is Sonia who should be charged with assault.

“Any assault that was committed was by Mr. Sonia not the officers,” Drechsler said.

Drechsler would not say which police officer Sonia struck, or if any of the officers suffered any injuries.

Brookline Police Chief Daniel O’Leary said in a statement Friday that police continue to investigate the incident, and to ensure the integrity of the investigation the department will not release any further details.

“I have promised a thorough and exhaustive investigation into this incident and the filing of these complaints in no way alters the course of this investigation,” O’Leary said.

Saliba said a court date has not been set for a hearing on Sonia’s criminal complaint.


Robert Sonia (left) and his attorney John Saliba outside Brookline District Court Friday after filing a criminal complaint against four Brookline Police officers he claims assaulted him Sunday morning.

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