NORTHAMPTON, MA - The officer who arrested W. Michael Ryan "violently" dropped his bicycle and rushed at the former judge, refusing to let him change a flat tire or call AAA, according to a motion filed on Ryan's behalf. Ryan, 64, is charged with assault and battery on a police officer and disorderly conduct as a result of the Oct. 15 incident in a parking lot near the Hampshire County Hall of Records. Police said Ryan and his law partner, Barbara Plante, appeared to be intoxicated as they tended to their vehicle, which had broken down in the lot. According to a police report, Ryan refused to identify himself and jabbed at the hand of Officer Andrew Kohl after Kohl removed Ryan's wallet from his pocket. Police then pinned Ryan to the car, handcuffed him and arrested him.
Much of the encounter is captured on a police video that Ryan released to the media. In a motion filed in Northampton District Court last week, defense lawyer Aaron Wilson asks that the case against his client be dismissed because the video has no audio component. According to Wilson, the audio is "vital evidence" that would have verified Ryan's version of that night's events. The motion quotes Police Chief Russell P. Sienkiewicz saying that the audio portion of a recording is only turned on after both parties are notified. This is inconsistent with explanations provided by the prosecution of the missing audio, Wilson said. Ryan's story, some of which is detailed in several motions filed by Wilson, differs dramatically from the report written by Kohl. Kohl stated that he was on bicycle patrol when he came upon Ryan and Plante in the parking lot trying to change the tire. Ryan was uncooperative, refusing to say where he was going or coming from, according to Kohl. Ryan described Kohl as the aggressor. "Officer Kohl violently dropped his bike and rushed over to me and angrily asked me again where I was coming from and where I was going to," Ryan wrote. "I answered that I didn't have to answer his questions and I wouldn't." Wilson also filed a motion to suppress Ryan's invocation of his right to remain silent as well as all other statements his client made at the scene, saying that Ryan was effectively in police custody. Ryan said he tried to leave several times but was prohibited from doing so by Kohl and other officers. Ryan, who suffers from a sleep disorder, told Kohl he was not the driver of the car, adding that he had not driven a car in almost 10 years, according to one of the motions. He also instructed Plante not to answer any questions by police, telling officers that he was her lawyer. According to Ryan, police refused to let him change the flat tire or call AAA, saying they would tow the car. One of the officers at the scene appeared to recognize Ryan, calling him "judge," Ryan said. Ryan was the presiding justice of Northampton District Court from 1997 to 2002. He also served as Northwestern District Attorney from 1983 to 1988. He retired from the bench in 2008, citing his sleep disorder. Because Ryan has been associated with the district court judges in this circuit, Superior Court Judge Charles Hely was tapped to hear the case. Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel also named Berkshire County Assistant District Attorney Joseph Yorlano special prosecutor. Yorlano has opposed Wilson's request for discovery, saying the defense is trying to force the prosecution to disclose its theory of the case. Discovery is the sharing of evidence and other material that the two sides plan to use in a case. Wilson has asked the prosecution to state whether it views Ryan's alleged assault and battery as "reckless" or "intentional." Wilson maintains that there is insufficient evident to support either charge against Ryan. email@example.com
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