Former Weare police sergeant fired after internal investigations
Former Weare police sergeant Joseph Kelley was fired last year following three department investigations, the contents of which have been turned over to state prosecutors for “possible criminal activity,” according to correspondence among the town, the union representing Kelley and the state labor board.
While department and town officials have yet to fully explain the termination, claiming it could taint a pending state investigation into an officer-involved shooting last August, documents submitted to the board jointly by the town and the union show the move followed interviews with department employees, including at least one recorded statement, and information including time sheets.
Officials have yet to say whether Kelley was involved in the Aug. 14 incident, in which two still-unidentified officers opened fire on a 35-year-old Manchester man as he sped away from an undercover drug bust outside a Dunkin’ Donuts along Route 114. The man, Alex Cora DeJesus, a suspected heroin dealer, died later that night of a gunshot wound.
The attorney general’s office said last year that several officers and two confidential informants were at the scene of the shooting. Weare police Chief John Velleca has since reinstated the two officers who fired on DeJesus, primarily on an administrative capacity, he said, but occasionally sending them out on patrol.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell told the Union Leader earlier this week that the state investigation will likely continue for “the next few months.”
Kelley had been on paid leave at the time of his firing, in November, which he attributed in an interview with the Monitor to lingering psychological issues related to the shooting.
The union representing Kelley has argued for weeks that the town has been withholding details from the investigations that led to Kelley’s termination, according to a filing by the labor board’s executive director, Doug Ingersoll. The town objected, claiming its hesitance to share a full report was, at least in part, “to prevent Kelley from engaging in any improper interference in the attorney general’s investigation,” Ingersoll wrote.
But in a ruling earlier this month, Ingersoll said the union’s and Kelley’s interests “outweigh” those of the town, and he ordered officials to hand over any remaining information they had on the termination. A lawyer for the town said yesterday it has complied with the directive.
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)