Soltani continues to question officer’s methods, motives on day two of trial
Tony Soltani spent most of his second day in court continuing his questioning of the Epsom officer who arrested him last spring, probing details such as the effectiveness of the police officer’s radar gun, his understanding of Miranda rights and the circumstances of an incident involving the officer the day before he charged Soltani with interfering in a police chase.
Soltani, a lawyer representing himself, has said he believes his arrest was in retaliation for a complaint he had filed earlier against the officer, James Kear.
Kear testified Monday in Merrimack County Superior Court that he was unaware of the complaint when he arrested Soltani.
Yesterday, Soltani seemed to keep with his tactic of leaving no question unasked, quizzing Kear on everything from how many defensive driving classes he had ever taken to whether he knew the exact definition of “deadly weapon.”
At one point he asked, “Since this incident, have you told anyone that I have a mental illness or that I am a drug user?”
Kear responded: “Not that I recall.”
“Not that you recall?” Soltani asked.
Soltani faces a felony charge of reckless conduct and a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly driving at high speeds between Kear’s police cruiser and the car Kear was pursuing. At the time of the incident, Soltani was a Republican state representative and Epsom’s town counsel.
In his defense, Soltani has said he was trying to help Kear apprehend the suspect.
Yesterday, he asked repeatedly whether, the day before the speeding incident, Kear had been denied permission by Soltani’s elderly mother to enter his home to arrest a child on runaway charges. Kear said he had not been denied entry. But his officer report from that day, which was produced by Soltani at the trial, indicated that she had asked him not to come inside the house.
Kear testified that his role in the matter was simply to respond to a call requesting that he pick the girl up.
“Yes, no, or I don’t know – did she deny you entry into the house?” Soltani asked, showing Kear the report.
“Maybe,” Kear said.
Soltani also questioned again and again Kear’s decision not to read him his Miranda rights at the scene of the arrest, suggesting that protocol calls for them to be recited to “every” prisoner.
“My question is: What does the policy say? It says every prisoner, doesn’t it?” Soltani asked.
“Again, my interpretation is that you only need to read Miranda when you intend to do a custodial interrogation,” Kear said.
Soltani finished his initial examination roughly an hour into the day. However, after a brief cross-examination by the state’s attorney, Michael Valentine, he then questioned Kear about a statement he had just made to Valentine – that he had looked at his dashboard radar gun rather than his speedometer when estimating Soltani’s speed.
“This is very important,” Soltani said. He then delved into a series of questions on the accuracy of Doppler radar when surrounded by traffic.
“Would you agree that (Doppler radar) is susceptible to error?” Soltani asked.
“It’s always susceptible to error,” Kear replied.
When Soltani finished, Valentine then asked Kear whether his radar had ever malfunctioned in the past, and whether in those instances it was noticeable. Kear answered that it had, that it was noticeable and that on the night of the chase, the machine’s readings appeared to be on par with the speeds at which he felt his cruiser was traveling.
By the time Kear was released as a witness, Valentine had made numerous objections leading to more than a dozen bench conferences between the Judge Richard McNamara and both counsels.
Valentine then called officer Jon Adinolfo, who had assisted Kear in Soltani’s arrest and booking, to the stand. He asked Adinolfo about his account of Soltani and Kear’s interaction at the police station, once Soltani had been brought in. Adinolfo said Soltani did not respond to Kear’s questions, and later testified that Soltani agreed to answer the questions as long as Adinolfo asked them.
In his cross-examination, Soltani asked Adinolfo several times about his demeanor during the booking process.
“I was friendly with you?” he asked.
“There were no harsh words,” Adinolfo said.
“I was cooperative with you?” Soltani asked.
“Yes,” Adinolfo said.
“I was polite with you?”
Soltani’s trial is scheduled to resume this morning at 9:30.
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319 or firstname.lastname@example.org)