Officer on Leave on Assault Charges After Finding Wife with Best Friend
WESTMINSTER -- When Officer Richard Michel awoke at his home on North Common Road early in the morning on New Year’s Day, he could not find his wife or his best friend, with whom he was celebrating hours earlier.
That’s when Michel drove to his friend’s house, also in Westminster, he told State Police investigators. Arriving there at about 5 a.m., he began yelling and allegedly broke the front door open with a baseball bat, went inside a bedroom and found the two in an intimate situation.
At that point, Michel told police, he decided to “break a few things.”
The friend told police that Michel chased him into a bathroom and then began smashing the bathroom door with the bat until it also broke open.
Michel’s wife told police her husband first entered the bedroom and began smashing things, including a wall decoration above the bed where she was lying.
At that point, Michel’s wife told police, he grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to the floor. She then attempted to grab her purse that had a cellphone inside, but Michel, she told police, pulled the purse from her and flung it across the room.
Michel then allegedly struck his wife across the back with the bat, then grabbed her neck in an attempt to choke her and began punching and kicking her. She told police she protected her face, eventually crawling out of the house and hiding in the driveway.
Police said she had a cut under her eye and bruising on her throat and back.
Michel, a 15-year veteran of the Police Department, has been placed on paid leave. He is charged with “assault and battery on a family member, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, strangulation or suffocation, destruction of property, breaking and entering in the nighttime for a felony, and intimidation of a witness,” according to the Worcester District Attorney’s Office.
He was arraigned in Gardner District Court Wednesday. He was released under the conditions that he have no contact with witnesses, abide by a restraining order, refrain from using excessive alcohol and not possess any firearms.
The Westminster police, in a prepared statement, said Michel will remain on leave until further notice. The Police Department is conducting an internal investigation into the incident and District Attorney Joseph Early’s office is directing the criminal case.
“The Westminster Police Department continues to maintain a strict zero-tolerance policy against violence and domestic violence,” Acting Police Chief Michael McDonald wrote in the statement.
Michel is scheduled to return to court for a pre-trial conference on Feb. 19.
Sentinel & Enterprise City Editor Cliff Clark contributed to this report.