LACONIA — A Laconia man who was zapped by a Taser twice by a Belknap County Sheriff's Deputy has been found guilty of resisting arrest and disobeying an officer.
After a bench trial during the early part of November, Judge Jim Carroll of the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division ruled the police had justifiable cause to detain Matthew Tusi, finding him guilty of two misdemeanors that resulted from the stop.
Tusi, 30, has also been indicted in the Belknap County Superior Court for three felony counts of drug possession and one misdemeanor count of drug possession. Police allege he had marijuana, cocaine, oxycodone, and heroin on him at the time of the incident.
According to affidavits and eye-witness accounts of Tusi's arrest, Sheriff's Deputy E. Justin Blanchette noticed Tusi driving along the road that leads to the Belknap County House of Corrections shortly after 9 p.m. on August 7.
Blanchette, who knows Tusi, said he was concerned because there have been instances of contraband introduced at the jail and the road to the jail is limited access. In addition, the road is marked that all vehicles are subject to random stops and searches.
In the parking lot of the jail, Tusi approached Blanchette and asked him "if he could help him."
When Blanchette asked him why he was there, Tusi told him he was bringing bail money for a friend of his. Blanchette said he told Tusi his recollection was that the woman was sentenced and was in no need of bail, but asked Tusi to wait while he checked.
Blanchette said Tusi, after swearing and screaming at him, got back in his car and left, while he was checking to see if the woman was sentenced or in need of bail. He said he beckoned to Tusi to "wait a minute" while he checked but Tusi left.
Blanchette followed Tusi, who he said didn't violate any traffic rules, but told the court he waited until Tusi was near the intersection of Union Avenue and Gilford Avenue before turning on his blue lights because he was waiting for backup from Laconia Police.
Tusi slowed and pulled to the right side of Gilford Avenue but didn't immediately get out of the car. In his ruling Carroll said Blanchette needed to use his loudspeaker to tell Tusi to get out of the car.
Tusi ran from the car and reached into the waistband of his sweatpants. Blanchette ordered him to show his hands and Tusi ran into a back yard near the lower end of Gilford Avenue. Police pursued and a backyard struggle resulted.
Witnesses said Tusi was zapped twice that night. Affidavits said one prong of the Taser missed on the first strike but Tusi was hit squarely by the Taser the second time and fell in the backyard.
He yelled and said he wanted an ambulance.
Surrounded by members of his family, as well as Blanchette, Laconia Police, and off-duty Gilford Lt. James Leach, Tusi said repeatedly he couldn't walk and that he wanted an ambulance.
After about five to seven minutes, a sergeant from the Laconia Police, told somebody to call an ambulance and one was called.
One of the members of Tusi's family, who witnessed most of the episode, said later that Tusi had a money order on him that he was bringing to the woman for deposit into her jail account. He said in his opinion Tusi misspoke when he told Blanchette he was bringing "bail" money to the woman.
It was initially reported that Tusi struggled and ambulance crews needed to subdue him. The family member said, and The Sun confirmed, that during the apparent struggle, three police officers were in the ambulance with Tusi while the two ambulance attendants were outside.
Surrounding the ambulance during this time were three male members of Tusi's family, the supervisor for the Laconia Police, the Gilford police officer, one of his friends — an off-duty police officer from New York State — and the two ambulance employees. Other witnesses were unable to see into the ambulance but, because the lights were on the inside of the ambulance were on, were able to see some kind of struggle through the windows.
According to Carroll's ruling, the defendant showed "no effects of the Taser."
Tusi is being held on cash-only bail at the Belknap County House of Corrections. As of Friday, he has not been sentenced for the two misdemeanor convictions.