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Suspended Waltham police chief's trial opens in Concord District Court

Posted by Tom Coakley  June 20, 2013 06:15 PM

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By Jaclyn Reiss, Globe Correspondent

Shannon Policano testified in Concord District Court Thursday that the wife of suspended Waltham police chief Thomas LaCroix showed up crying at her doorstep on June 12 last year.

“She was white as a ghost and crying, and she had a bruise – a fat lip – and a little bit of blood on her mouth,” Policano said, crying and at one point putting her hand over her face.

“When I asked her what happened, she said, ‘Tom just beat the [expletive] out of me,” said Policano, who said she has known Andrea LaCroix since she was 8.

Policano testified at the opening of Thomas LaCroix’s trial on charges that he assaulted his wife and Policano at the LaCroix home in Maynard last June.

Policano’s testimony was delivered before Judge J. Elizabeth Cremens as part of a “voir dire,” or preliminary, hearing. Policano will deliver the same statements tomorrow before the eight men and one woman on the jury that will decide Thomas LaCroix’s fate.

Policano’s testimony Thursday came after LaCroix’s lawyer Thomas Drechsler told the court that he intended to call Andrea LaCroix as a defense witness.

In a brief interview between court sessions, Andrea LaCroix confirmed that she will testify in her husband’s behalf.

“My husband is not guilty,’’ she said. She declined to provide any more information.

Prosecutor Suzanne Kontz said in her opening statement that after Policano gave Andrea an ice pack and a wet towel to wipe the blood from her mouth, she drove her friend a mile and a half down the road to the Maynard house the LaCroixs shared to pick up Andrea’s clothes, house keys, and cell phone.

But after Andrea let them in using a spare key outside the home, they found her husband in the kitchen, clutching her cell phone. When Andrea reached for her phone, her husband became “visibly enraged” and grabbed his wife, slamming her head into the kitchen countertop, Kontz said.

When Policano tried to intervene, LaCroix lunged toward her, causing her to flee backwards over a set of a half-dozen steps, missing the bottom few, the prosecutor said.

LaCroix was arrested by Maynard police and charged with assault. He is on paid administrative leave from the Waltham department.

LaCroix has pleaded not guilty and is free but wears an ankle monitoring bracelet to make sure he doesn’t go near witnesses in the case.

In his opening statement, Drechsler said that Policano and other witnesses to be called by the prosecution are telling exaggerated stories. Their motive is publicity, he said, and they are reveling in town gossip.

Drechsler said that the only injury that Andrea LaCroix suffered at the time of the alleged assault was a bruised tail bone which happened because she fell.

Because LaCroix has been on paid administrative leave he has continued to collect his $146,305 annual salary. Last year, he collected $182,358 in salary and other benefits, including a $16,814 longevity bonus he received after he was arrested, according to city payroll records.

Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy previously told the Globe that the suspended chief could lose his job if he is found guilty on the criminal charges, or if the city finds that his conduct was in violation of Police Department rules.

However, McCarthy said, no matter what the verdict is in the criminal case, the city must conduct an independent investigation in order to dismiss LaCroix from the force, and the investigation can be completed only after the trial.

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com




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