Pro-life activist Peter D’Attilio [Photo via MassResistance.org]
A Massachusetts judge has dismissed all charges against peaceful pro-life activist Peter D’Attilio stemming from his arrest last summer in what was clearly a disturbing case of police misconduct.
I’ve written previously about this incident, in which D’Attilio was arrested after distributing pro-life bookmarks at St. Rocco Parish’s annual festival in Franklin, Massachusetts.
After a festival chairman complained to police and asked that D’Attilio be removed, officers approached him and asked to see his identification. D’Attilio responded by asking why they wanted to see his ID.
One of the officers, Patrolman Robert Burchill, responded that he “needed to know who he was dealing with”.
D’Attilio claims that Officer Burchill then told him he was on private property owned by the church, at which point D’Attilio claims he offered to leave voluntarily, but then Burchill told him not to leave.
Handcuffed, Choked, and Punched by Police Officer
D’Attilio says he then told Burchill he was illegally detaining him, and that the officer tried to put his hand in D’Attilio’s back pocket to grab his wallet.
At that point, D’Attilio was handcuffed, and shortly thereafter, he claims Burchill started choking him, and then punched him in the face, giving him a black eye.
While he was in custody, police broke into D’Attilio’s vehicle. In his words: “The door was left wide open, everything was moved around as if it had been thoroughly searched … and there was a pair of plastic gloves on the hood of my vehicle.”
Police also told D’Attilio he had had been added to the federal terrorist watch list.
Prosecution’s Argument “Nonsense,” Says Judge
Last week, Wrentham District County Judge Stephen Ostrach dismissed all charges against D’Attilio.
Note in particular the judge’s remarks on this matter as recorded in this transcript:
It says that if he did not produce an ID he was going to be placed under arrest for disturbing the peace because he was creating a scene. In other words, “Disturbing the peace” is not providing your ID? That’s a remarkable way of disturbing the peace. It’s the middle of the night in the wilderness and there’s no one else around. “Give me your ID.” “No.” “You’re disturbing the peace!” Nonsense.
The entire transcript is well worth a read. Without a doubt, Judge Ostrach clearly recognized how egregious the charges against D’Attilio really were.
Pro-Life Victories Preserve Freedom for All
What’s next for Peter D’Attilio?
The Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center has already contacted him to begin a civil rights lawsuit against the police, a course of action that Pro-Life Action League Executive Director Eric Scheidler is encouraging him to pursue.
Scheidler is quoted in a LifeSiteNews story as saying:
This is a great opportunity for Peter D’Attilio to advance the pro-life cause by sending a very clear message to police forces across the country that this kind of unfair treatment of pro-life activists not only won’t be tolerated but will lead to serious repercussions.
Later in the story, commenting on the victories of the pro-life movement against insidious attacks on our constitutional rights, Scheidler points out that all citizens, not just pro-lifers, have benefited as a result:
If it weren’t for the pro-life movement, the First Amendment – and in this case I suppose the Fourth Amendment, as well – would be shredded.
I believe the pro-life movement is the floodwall standing between tyranny and liberty.