Updated: Westminster Police Officer Became Violent When Finding Wife with Friend After New Year Eve Celebration
WESTMINSTER -- A 15-year veteran of the police department is on paid leave while he faces domestic assault charges related to a New Year’s Day incident involving him, his wife and best friend, according to police.
Richard Michel, 46, according to police, was celebrating New Year’s Eve with his wife and friend at his home on North Common Road.
At some point, Michel told state police investigating the incident, he fell asleep and when he awoke, he could not find his wife or friend. He then drove to his friend’s home in Westminster at about 5 a.m. and began yelling and then allegedly broke the front door open with a baseball bat, went inside a bedroom and found the two in an intimate situation.
At that point, Michel told police, he decided to “break a few things.”
The friend told police that when Michel entered the bedroom, he chased him into a bathroom and then began beating the bathroom door with the bat until it also broke open.
Michel’s wife told police her husband first entered the bedroom where she was and began smashing things, including a wall decoration above the bed where she was lying.
At that point, Michel’s wife told police, he grabbed her by the hair, pulled her to the floor. She then attempted to grab her purse when had a cell phone inside, but Michel, she told police, pulled it from her and flung it across the room.
Michel then allegedly struck his wife across the back with the bat, then grabbed her neck in an attempt to choke her and began punching and kicking her. She told police she protected her face, eventually crawling out of the house and hiding in the driveway.
Police said she had a cut under her eye and brusing on her throat and back.
For the alleged incident, Michel was charged with “assault and battery on a family member; assault and battery with a dangerous weapon; strangulation or suffocation; destruction of property; breaking and entering in the nighttime for a felony; and intimidation of a witness,” according to Worcester District Attorney’s Office spokesman Timothy Connolly.
Michel, who also resides in Westminster, was arraigned in Gardner District Court Wednesday. The assistant district attorney requested a dangerousness hearing.
“The judge found the defendant was not dangerous and released the defendant,” Connolly said in an email. “As conditions of his release, the judge ordered him to have no contact with witnesses, abide by the victim’s restraining order; refrain from using excessive amounts of alcohol and not to possess any firearms.”
Westminster police issued a press release stating Michel is on paid leave until further notice.
“The Westminster Police Department will be conducting a thorough internal investigation into the matter and Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early’s Office is directing the criminal case,” Acting Police Chief Michael McDonald said in the release. “The Westminster Police Department continues to maintain a strict zero-tolerance policy against violence and domestic violence.”
Michel is scheduled for a pre-trial conference on Tuesday, Feb. 19.
Sentinel & Enterprise City Editor Cliff Clark contributed to this story.