A Massachusetts cop forced his way into the home of a mother of four last month, threatening to report her to the Department of Children and Families when she refused to walk upstairs, grabbing at her phone when she tried to record the altercation.
Fall River police officer Keith Pires was responding to a call over a domestic dispute between the woman, Monica Velozo, and her father, the one who made the call.
But Velozo’s father had already left her home by the time Pires arrived.
The short video clip begins with Pires already in the doorway and Velozo very agitated, and the situation quickly escalates.
The incident took place July 26 and left Velozo scared, but she decided to release the footage anyway.
“I am a mother to four and this can’t continue. We should feel safe when we see a police car not have a panic attack,” she said.
“I told [my father] to leave,” she continued. “Thirty minutes later cops are here. I went downstairs to let them know they will not be coming upstairs because that’s where my children were…. Long story short my dad said he would be back next week, so I asked the officer how I could make sure that didn’t happen.”
“He charged up my porch and by the time I hit record, he was already pushing his way into my hallway. That’s why when the video starts, I’m backing up because he was pointing in my face and pushing himself forward.”
In the video, Pires threatens: “I’m gonna tell you the last time, okay? Go upstairs or you’re gonna get locked up, okay? That’s number one, okay, and I will call DCF on you. You understand that?”
Pires grabs at the Velozo’s camera immediately after making the threat. Velozo’s voice becomes even more agitated as she tells Pires that what he is doing is illegal. Pires backs off from her, then addresses her boyfriend, Shawn, while she continues to protest his actions.
“He just grabbed my phone out of my hand. I’m posting it and everybody’s getting fired,” Velozo says in the video.
Pires responds, “Okay, I’m gonna tell you what. I’m gonna notify DCF [unintelligible…] Okay? That’s being done,” Pires responds.
“I thought for sure I was going to get arrested when I told him I was recording. His eyes were scary. Very intimidating man,” Velozo said.
The video doesn’t show how the interaction began, but shows enough to conclude that Pires was out of control. He entered the home aggressively with no warrant on a call for a domestic incident that had already ended before his arrival. He threatened and physically attacked Velozo in her own home for refusing to go upstairs. And he used the threat of calling DCF to try to force her to comply with his demands.
The unreasonableness of Pires’s entry into the home is demonstrated by that fact he never claimed that he suspected anyone inside of committing a crime, and he left shortly after entering.
Pires actions seem to be part of a pattern. Last year, Fall River police officer Thomas Barboza barged onto the porch of resident George Thompson, shoved him to the ground, and arrested him after he became upset that the man was recording him.
Barboza faced no penalty for the wrongful arrest, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Pires would behave in a similarly aggressive way even. For this reason, Fall River Police Chief Dan Racine deserves some of the blame for Pires’ actions.
The Fall River police non-emergency number is (508) 676-8511.