Tufts Dining worker allegedly beaten by Lynn police officer

Alexandros Armand (left) and Victor R. White (right) lead hundreds of protesters calling for charges against them to be dropped on a march from Lynn Police Headquarters to Lynn Common on the evening of June 26. (Alexander Thompson / The Tufts Daily)

Two Tufts Dining workers, Victor R. White and Alexandros Armand, allege that they were arrested and brutalized by Lynn, Mass. police officers on the night of June 15 and 16 along with Scott Reed, who is not a Tufts affiliate.

White, who is a cook at Carmichael Dining Center, claims that he was beaten by an officer while in a holding cell at the Lynn Police Department (LPD) headquarters, following his arrest.

He recounted the events of June 15 and 16 in a public speech at a Black Lives Matter protest on June 19 in Lynn Common.

White claimed in his speech that he was first asked by officers to remove his shoes and socks upon arrival at the police station. 

“We get to the police station, while I’m being booked, they bring me into a hole, so I have one cop in there with me. They take my shoes. They ask for my socks,” White said in a video of the speech the Daily has reviewed. “Now, that doesn’t seem normal to me, so I ask ‘Why do you need my socks?’ Before I could get that out of my mouth, another police officer … walked into the cell.” 

According to White, the second officer proceeded to make a comment and beat him. 

“Before I knew it, he grabbed me, threw me to the floor, and started beating me,” White said.

White also indicated that he was not read his Miranda rights upon arrest by the officers.

“[They] never told me why I was being arrested,” White said. “I didn’t even get my rights read to me.”

Officer Matthew Coppinger described the incident in the holding cell in a police report filed at 1:17 a.m. on June 16.

He wrote that he and Officer Fredy Demota-Done got into an argument with White when he declined to remove his mask from around his neck, as LPD does not permit masks to be worn in single-person holding cells, according to the report.

Coppinger claimed in the report that he tried to remove White’s mask and that White held onto his forearm and grabbed his wrist in response. The officer wrote that he and Demota-Done then seized White, as he continued to resist.

“I placed myself in a position of advantage by kneeling up and over him and pushing him away with my forearm,” Coppinger wrote.

White described his recollection of the events inside the holding cell in his speech. 

“[The officer] beat me. I swear to God. Feet with boots, closed fists, on the floor, in a cell, with another cop watching, cameras and everything,” White said. “[He] did not care … I say, ‘Help me. Can somebody please help me?’ He puts his knee on my back … and says, ‘Tase him’ …  While I’m in a fetal position.

According to the police report, once White was on the floor and the mask removed, Coppinger and Demota-Done left the cell and locked the door behind them. 

White was charged with drinking in public, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and assault and battery against a police officer, according to the report. He posted bail and is currently on active probation.

Armand, who is a cook at Carmichael Dining Center, was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, according to the report. 

The report also indicated that the third individual, Scott Reed, was charged with violating Lynn municipal ordinances against public alcohol consumption and possession of a knife with a blade of more than 2.5 inches in length.

The events that led to White’s alleged beating began just before midnight on June 15 when two LPD officers, John Clem III and Demota-Done, responded to a noise complaint at White’s residence.

Clem claimed the three men were illegally drinking beer outside in a report filed on June 16. After an argument, the two officers proceeded to arrest the three men.

White noted in his speech that he was arrested on his own private property. 

“Before you know it, I’m being attacked by two police in my own driveway in front of my own house,White said.  

Clem wrote in the report that he and Demota-Done used a “wrist lock technique” to cuff White.

White claimed during his speech that the officers “attacked” and “slammed” him against his car.

Both Clem and Coppinger reported that White and the other men loudly resisted arrest.

Once they arrived at the police station, White was taken to the holding cell where the incident took place.

LPD launched an internal investigation into the arrests and one of the officers involved voluntarily resigned, according to a press release from the department. The investigation will be turned over to the Essex County district attorney upon completion.

A police spokesman declined to name the officer who resigned pending the results of the internal investigation.

A public demonstration occurred on June 26 in Lynn Common at 5:30 p.m., after widespread outcry from members of the Tufts community and others on social media.