FOX25 Investigates: Mentally ill defendant says federal marshals assaulted him

FOX25 Investigates: Mentally ill defendant says federal marshals assaulted him

BOSTON — The mentally ill defendant at the center of a violent confrontation caught on video in Boston federal court – and exclusively obtained by FOX25 Investigates – told a judge Thursday that federal marshals assaulted him in a courthouse hallway.

During the court hearing, prosecutors also asked Magistrate Judge Donald Cabell to seal evidence in the case because of FOX25’s report on the video of the courtroom takedown.

Investigative Reporter Eric Rasmussen first reported last month on the video showing U.S. Marshals tackling an unarmed, mentally ill defendant as he spoke to his attorney and later, appearing to show one federal marshal kicking or kneeing the man while he was handcuffed.

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James Massaro, 47, is facing charges of resisting federal officers in the March 29 incident.

Massaro insisted federal marshals continued to kick him in the hallway of the courthouse that day during a bizarre 10-minute speech at a Thursday hearing.

The courtroom video obtained by FOX25 Investigates doesn’t show what happens once the U.S. Marshals lead Massaro out of the courtroom – and out of the view of the camera – but yelling can still be heard.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has said no additional courthouse videos from that day exist – a contention Massaro’s defense attorney, Daniel Cloherty, challenged during the hearing.

The courtroom video shows only four seconds pass from the time U.S. Marshals Ronald Demers and Robert Larcome approach Massaro, whose back is to the federal marshals, and attempt to take him into custody and the violent scuffle that ensues.

Despite video of the incident, prosecutors say Massaro was not being kicked – only forced out the door of the courtroom.

The U.S. Marshals say their officers were the ones injured, but Massaro told the court he suffered a broken rib and dislocated shoulder in the incident and he wants the charges against him dismissed.

“I have never in my life threatened or assaulted any member of law enforcement,” Massaro told Cabell.

Massaro also questioned why the U.S. Marshals, who are accusing him of federal crimes, are still overseeing his confinement.

Massaro, who was in court for a probation violation during the March incident, has been locked up on the new charges ever since.

During the hearing, Cabell bristled when Massaro seemed to question his impartiality.

“I'm not mailing this in,” Cabell told Massaro. “You're starting now to harm your own case. Now please, be quiet.”

Court records confirm Massaro has a history of mental illness. Cabell did not make a ruling during Thursday’s hearing on the prosecution’s suggestion to seal evidence or on a motion to release Massaro while he is awaiting trial, but he wants him to be re-evaluated first.

Massaro’s defense attorney declined to speak to FOX25 Investigates after the hearing.

A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service deferred comment to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, citing the ongoing case. The federal prosecutor for the case also declined comment Thursday.