Candidate for mayor has record

Last modified: 9/27/2011 12:00:00 AM
Mayoral candidate John Cook spent a night in the Merrimack County jail earlier this year after he was charged with disorderly conduct and exposing himself to two Concord police officers.

Cook, 67, pleaded no contest to the disorderly conduct charge in a plea deal reached Sept. 13, six days before he filed to run against incumbent Mayor Jim Bouley, who is seeking a third term. The indecent-exposure charge was set aside.

Cook has had three run-ins with the Concord police in recent years that have led to criminal charges, including a 2005 incident when he allegedly kicked two police officers as they took him to Concord Hospital while he was "heavily intoxicated," according to court records.

Cook, a city landlord and former state worker, said yesterday he had been drinking before all three incidents, and two escalated because police officers gave him a hard time as he was walking home. He said he doesn't drink and drive, and one of the reasons he's running for mayor is to encourage the police department to be nicer to citizens.

"I know something about the police department and how they work," Cook said. "Nobody else does, or cares."

Acting police Chief John Duval declined to respond to Cook's comments.

Bouley, 45, has had no criminal cases in the past decade, according to the Concord district court clerk's office, and neither Cook nor Bouley had any felony-level criminal cases on file at the Merrimack County Superior Court.

 'Affronted, and disgusted'

 

In the most recent case, Cook was arrested the night of Jan. 17 after a police officer saw him walk into the middle of Maple Street, "yelling and dancing," according to an affidavit prepared by the officer, Brian Womersley.

Cook told the Monitor he was walking home in the street because the sidewalks were covered with snow, and he was dancing " 'cause I was happy."

Cook told officers he had a knife and pepper spray in his pockets, according to the affidavit, and "had glassy bloodshot eyes and slurred speech littered with profanity." Cook said yesterday he had been drinking and encountered the officers as he tried to get into his house.

He also called the police version of events embellished. For instance, he said, the police reported that he said he had dangerous items in his pockets, but he said he never threatened anyone.

In the affidavit, Womersley said Cook was arrested after he said he lived at the house but refused to answer other questions or identify himself, leading to suspicion he could be a prowler. He was taken to the police station.

"While I was searching Cook in the cell, he kept threatening that once the handcuffs were off he would fight me. Cook kept stating that he was very tough and served in the Vietnam War," Womersley wrote. Cook then was told to remove his snow pants and jacket, but became agitated and undressed completely, he wrote.

"I was affronted, and disgusted by what I saw," Womersley wrote.

"Throughout the booking process, Cook would start to weep about something and then became very agitated and started swearing at me and the city of Concord," he continued. "I told Cook that I was going to take a photograph of his face for the booking photograph. Cook then stated that he would give me something to take a picture of, stating 'my d---' and attempted to climb up on the bench. I then told him that taking the picture was not worth him hurting himself. Cook stated that he would bend me over and make me squeal."

Cook was eventually taken to the county jail, where he spent a night held on $1,000 cash-only and $2,000 personal-recognizance bail.

Cook said he was agitated with the officers because he had been unfairly detained.

"It never involved my fellow citizens. It involved me and the police department, and you can ask anybody downtown if I've ever been mean to anybody," Cook said yesterday. "If you listen to short-wave and AM radio, they say the criminal justice in this country is making criminals out of people. Think back. You get an old-time drunk veteran, and he gives you a bunch of s--- on his own property because he's pissed off and he's in the bag. You take him to the police station and you find out that what he was saying was true, and then you tell him to undress. Why? Why would you do that? . . . Were they trying to embarrass me? What was it? Degrade me?"

In a plea deal reached Sept. 13, the day his trial was scheduled, Cook pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct and was fined $1,000, with $750 suspended six months on the condition of no additional criminal charges, according to court records. The exposure charge was placed on file without a finding.

 'I'm a fighter'

 

In 2007, Cook was arrested the evening of May 15 and charged with disorderly conduct after, the police alleged in a complaint, he "did commence to yelling, screaming and destroying furniture with a baseball bat while outside of 13 Union St.," one of the buildings he owns and rents out.

Cook said he had earlier that day gone to City Hall to get information about dividing the property or demolishing one of the buildings, and was angered by the answers he got.

"I was pissed off. . . . Every time I've gone to City Hall, I've been pissed off most times," Cook said.

So, he said, he went drinking, returned home and started destroying his furniture in the driveway out of frustration.

According to court records, Cook pleaded no contest to the charge and was fined $500, suspended for a year on the condition of good behavior and "continued counseling."

And the night of May 10, 2005, Cook was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, criminal mischief and two counts of simple assault after two officers found him at the intersection of North State and Maple streets. In an affidavit, Officer Ryan Howe wrote Cook "appeared to be heavily intoxicated" and had trouble keeping his balance, so he was "placed into protective custody" and taken to Concord Hospital.

There, Howe wrote, Cook at first refused to get out of the cruiser, then resisted as he was taken inside, cursing and kicking the two officers. He was then taken to the county jail in Boscawen and attempted to kick out the cruiser's rear passenger-side window along the way, damaging it.

Cook said he was walking home and was about a block from his house when he was taken into custody. He said he tried to pull away from the officers because he didn't want to go into the hospital, and a scuffle resulted.

Court records indicate Cook pleaded guilty to the charges of criminal mischief, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct in late December 2006. He was ordered to pay $433.50 in restitution to the city for the damaged police cruiser window and was fined a total of $2,000, with $1,500 suspended.

Cook said yesterday that he never drives when he's been drinking and isn't violent.

Of the January incident when he took off his clothes in the police station, he said, "I was fighting back. I was a wrestler. I'm a fighter. . . . I don't want to be messed with, and if I'm in the right, I really don't want to be messed with."

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com.)




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