THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

New Bedford constable is charged with assault

By L. Finch
Globe Correspondent / July 26, 2011

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A 53-year-old Fairhaven man who serves as a constable in New Bedford was arrested yesterday, police said, after he shoved a disabled man Friday during an altercation over a handicapped parking space.

Joseph Morra, who also serves as an elected member of the Planning Board in Fairhaven, was charged with assault and battery, intimidation of a witness, impersonating a police officer, and malicious destruction of property in connection with the incident, Fairhaven police said.

When reached by telephone last night, Morra declined to comment on the case.

According to police, a man who requires the use of a cane to walk was unable to park his vehicle in a handicapped space Friday night at the Seaport Inn and Marina in Fairhaven because Morra’s vehicle, without a handicapped license plate or placard, was taking up two of the designated spaces.

The man, whom police declined to identify, began to take photographs of the vehicle using his cellphone, according to police.

He told police that Morra, an employee of the inn, approached him, flashed a badge, and ordered him off the property, spewing profanities as he did so.

Morra then allegedly poked the man in the chest several times and shoved him, and when the man tried to take Morra’s photograph using his cellphone, Morra allegedly slapped it out of his hand, breaking it.

When officers responded to the scene, Morra came out of the inn and yelled at them, using a string of expletives, asking them to remove the man from the property, according to police.

Morra is due to appear in New Bedford District Court today.

He is also scheduled to appear in court Friday on unrelated felony vandalism and larceny charges stemming from an incident last year.

L. Finch can be reached at lfinch@globe.com.