FALL RIVER, Mass. — The Fall River Police Department has fired another officer tied to an ongoing scandal involving allegations of falsifying police reports and beating suspects.
Interim Police Chief Paul Gauvin announced Thursday he fired officer Thomas Roberts, who admitted to filing a false police report in 2019. Roberts was granted immunity in exchange for testifying against his fellow officer, Michael Pessoa, who was likewise fired from the police force earlier this month.
“My decision to terminate Mr. Roberts was based on the findings of a hearing officer designated by the city to determine whether Mr. Roberts had engaged in serious misconduct in violation of Fall River Police Department Rules and Regulations,” Gauvin said in statement. “The hearing officer found substantial evidence that Mr. Roberts engaged in violations of Police Department Rules and Regulations related to untruthfulness and conduct unbecoming, and that termination is warranted in this matter.”
The termination comes roughly a year and a half after a grand jury indicted Pessoa and charged him with 15 criminal offenses. A judge has since tossed out four of the charges, and the case is still winding its way through the court system. Gauvin did not immediately disclose the specific reasons for firing Roberts, but court documents show the officer was with Pessoa when he allegedly assaulted Fall River resident David Lafrance in February 2019.
A surveillance video obtained by Target 12 shows Pessoa punching and wrestling Lafrance to the ground with the assistance of other officers, which court records allege included Roberts. Earlier this week, Lafrance filed a federal lawsuit against the city, Pessoa and Roberts, along with two other officers, Andre DeMelo and Sean Aguiar.
Lafrance alleges the officers “brutally beat him” in front of his apartment complex, which was captured by the surveillance video. “They then dragged him to their police car and continued to beat him,” according to the complaint.
Augiar, who likewise testified against Pessoa in exchange for immunity, has since left the police force. DeMelo, who did not testify before the grand jury, resigned the same day Pessoa was indicted.
Eli Sherman (email@example.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for 12 News. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook.
Tim White contributed to this report.