• 25 Investigates: Video of drug arrest in Lowell causing criminal cases to be dismissed

    By: Ted Daniel

    Updated:

    Court cases are being thrown out and police officers are being put on leave, all stemming from a video of a drug arrest in Lowell.

    Three Lowell Police officers were placed on leave, with all of the criminal cases they're involved in now getting a second look.

    Boston 25 News obtained a copy of the video of the arrest, appearing to contradict testimonies and statements made by members of law enforcement under oath.

    The dark piece of surveillance video has cast a shadow on the case against 31-year-old Lowell native Paul Aaron, and was obtained from the federal courthouse in Concord, New Hampshire, where Aaron is charged in connection with the largest drug bust in that state's history.

    In late April, the US Attorney for New Hampshire named nearly four dozen defendants, including Aaron, who was described as a street-level dealer.

    A Lowell Police photo from March shows four pounds of fentanyl, body armor, guns, ammunition and cash, all found in Aaron's possession, according to their investigation.

    Now, what should be a strong case is now in jeopardy, as surveillance video of the arrest appears to contradict the sworn statements and testimonies from law enforcement.

    >>PREVIOUS: Lowell PD launches investigation into arrest; 3 officers on paid leave

    Boston 25 News reporter Ted Daniel reviewed the video with attorney David Siegel, a professor at New England Law.

    In the video, Aaron is seen walking down the street with what appears to be a bag in his hand before an alleged drug deal.

    During an October federal court hearing, New Hampshire State Trooper Francisco Vicente was asked "what he was carrying."

    "He wasn't carry anything," Vicente said.

    A Lowell Police detective provided a similar account in a written report obtained by 25 Investigates, and wrote Aaron "was not observed carrying" the bag before he met with his alleged supplier.

    "When you look at this video tape, it seems as if there's a gentleman carrying a bag long before he was supposed to have gotten this bag in some sort of a drug transaction," Siegel said. "It's flatly contradicted by the allegations in the affidavit of the police officers."

    Vicente also claimed to witness the drug transaction from the driver's seat of a minivan, and testified that Aaron "leaned in through the window. This time he had a bag in his hand."

    But, it appears trees blocked the view from where Vicente parked in relation to where the alleged transaction took place.

    The officers also claim Aaron resisted arrest, and packages of fentanyl spilled out of the bag to the ground.

    "This is a serious issue for the government and the prosecution of this specific case," Siegel said. "But, it's more serious for the officers involved. If they are shown to testify inaccurately, it undermines their credibility in that case and any other case they might participate in."

    Aaron's attorney played the video in federal court, and after the judge saw it, the US Attorney's Office decided to back off the evidence collected, stalling the case.

    Related gun and body armor charges against Aaron in Lowell District Court have also been dropped, and three Lowell Police officers involved in Aaron's arrest are now on paid administrative leave.

    The Middlesex District Attorney's Office says other unrelated cases have been dismissed, because those officers are no longer permitted to testify in court. They have not said how many cases have or could be impacted by the alleged credibility issues.

    Boston 25 News has made repeated requests for the status of Trooper Vicente, and multiple calls to the New Hampshire State Police have not been returned.

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