Officer Blake Holt of the Braintree Police Department is at it again. We can now add the New Year’s Eve takedown of Jeramie Croft to Holt’s track record of terrible policing. Holt attacked Croft, who was already in custody, after he refused to take off one of the two pairs of pants he had on. After the incident, Croft was taken to the hospital to treat the facial injury he sustained. A woman who answered Croft's phone and said she was his girlfriend said he had bruising on his face from the incident. The woman would not provide her name.
This story would have never been uncovered if Holt wasn’t constantly causing problems for the people of Braintree. After Holt helped arrest a medical marijuana patient and take his cash and medicine, summonsed a man to court for decorating his car to look like a Transformer, and arrested a woman for legally recording him, I made a request to see more of Holt's recent arrest reports.
Croft was arrested on New Year’s Eve for being at the South Shore Plaza, a Simon Mall property, where he had previously been issued a no trespassing order. I spoke with Croft's girlfriend, who witnessed Croft's arrest. She explained that Croft had been ordered not to return to the Target located on the property, but was not aware that the trespass order was for the entire mall.
According to Croft's girlfriend, the issue began when a driver struck her parked car damaging it. Croft called the police so that there would be a report on file for her insurance company. Blake Holt responded to Croft's call, and when he arrived there was a dispute over which of the two women from the other vehicle had been driving.
She said that while the dispute was going on, Croft took pictures of the damage with his phone. She said Holt told Croft it was illegal for him to take pictures and handcuffed. There in no law that would make taking pictures illegal under these circumstances. Holt's report does not mention anything about Croft taking pictures.
While detaining Croft, Holt recognized him and took it upon himself to check the mall’s trespass list for his name. Croft's name was on the list, so Holt arrested him.
Croft was placed in a cell, where he was told by one of the police officers there to remove one of the two layers of pants he was wearing.
According to Holt’s narrative, Croft refused to take off one of the two layers of pants. Croft's girlfriend said that he didn't want to take off the pants because it was cold. Holt and other officer were called in to “assist removing Jeramie’s first layer.” Holt's report continues:
I entered the cell with Jeramie and attempted to convince him to remove the pants himself at which point he jumped up from the bench and took a fighting stance. Jeramie’s face was tensed and his body was rigid as if he was getting ready to fight with us. I immediately took control of Jeramie and as I attempted to place him back on the bench his left upper cheek came into contact with the cell wall. Jeramie’s outer layer of pants was then removed and the string in his sweat pants was removed. Jeramie began to complain that his face/jaw hurt and that he wanted to be evaluated medically. EMS was called to evaluate Jeramie. While Jeramie was being placed on the stretcher he continually asked me if I would be going to the Hospital with him. Jeramie stated over and over again that he was going to "fuck with me" and that he like "fucking with me".
Croft can be seen in the video getting up abruptly, but appears to hold his hands out to his sides. Holt grabbed Croft so quickly that he didn't even have time to take the "fighting stance" alleged in the police report. Holt's use of the passive voice in describing how Croft's "left upper cheek came into contact with the cell wall" doesn't do justice to the fact that the officer bashed the man's head into a wall. The video of the incident does not have audio, so there is no way to confirm Holt's claim that Croft said he was going to “fuck with" the officer.
Holt’s report does not mention the gap of time between when Croft was injured and when he was finally provided with medical attention, during which he was left alone in the cell, clutching his face in pain. The report also does not mention that Holt climbed on top of Croft’s back for some time, using his knee to pin the man down.
The use of force in this case is questionable. Croft was outnumbered by at least four to one and was already in a cell. He hadn’t attacked anyone. The most aggressive thing he did was to stand up quickly.
Whether the use of force was legally justified or not, it's absurd that police got into a physical altercation because someone arrested on a trespassing charge wouldn't take off one of his two pairs of pants. If these officers had any common sense, they wouldn't have escalated a situation like this over something so unbelievably stupid. Seriously, just let the guy keep his pants.
Croft's girlfriend told us he is currently in jail on an unrelated matter and that he is fighting the charges over the New Year's Eve incident.