ARLINGTON — Chief Julie Flaherty reports that the Arlington Police Department arrested a man for allegedly assaulting an Arlington Police Officer during an altercation that occurred in Mugar Woods on Wednesday morning.
MICHAEL PERRY, AGE 36, who is currently homeless, was charged with:
- Assault and Battery on a Police Officer
- Resisting Arrest
- Disturbing the Peace
On Wednesday, June 2, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Arlington Police Officer Joseph Canniff, who is assigned to the Homeless Outreach Task Force, was conducting weekly outreach efforts in Mugar Woods along with a social worker from the Somerville Homeless Coalition when a verbal altercation began between two homeless residents.
A man involved in the verbal altercation and who is known to police, PERRY, left the area on a bicycle after Officer Canniff intervened and made his presence known. Shortly after his departure, PERRY returned and once again engaged in a verbal altercation with the man for a second time.
During the altercation, PERRY demanded that his gun be returned to him. A homeless woman then proceeded to hand over a gun, which was believed to be a rifle, to him. At this point, PERRY allegedly became aggressive and began to charge toward Officer Canniff with the gun, brandishing it at the officer. The officer backed away, drew his firearm and ordered the man to stop and drop the gun.
Through de-escalation efforts, Officer Canniff was able to get PERRY to drop the gun. The gun, which was later identified to be a BB pellet gun, was then seized by police. Other officers responded to the scene to provide assistance to Officer Canniff.
Because of the actions and extensive training of the responding officer, Arlington Police were able to de-escalate the situation and prevent any injury to not only the suspect but others in the area and the officer himself. Most recently, Arlington Police partnered with the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office to conduct a two-week interactive, scenario-based training that utilized the MSO Mobile Training Center and allowed officers to practice de-escalation skills and techniques.
“The actions of Officer Canniff, who has an already delicate assignment that includes providing outreach to some of our community’s most vulnerable residents, are consistent with the highest standards of law enforcement and public safety. Faced with a split-second decision and a weapon pointed in his direction, with a suspect coming toward him in the woods, Officer Canniff remained calm and fell back on his training to de-escalate a volatile and potentially dangerous situation,” Chief Flaherty said. “Officer Canniff is to be commended for his actions, which underscore the long-term ongoing efforts of the Town of Arlington and the Arlington Police Department to provide outreach, services and housing to our homeless residents living in the Mugar Woods.”
Once he was taken into custody, an Arlington Fire Department ambulance transported PERRY to a local hospital for evaluation where he was held overnight pending arraignment. PERRY also had multiple outstanding warrants out of Cambridge District Court, where he is expected to be arraigned today.
Immediately following this incident, Arlington Police conducted a search of Mugar Woods and were able to seize two more black rifles, which were also identified to be pellet guns.
Recently, and especially over the past 14 months, the Town of Arlington has intensified its efforts to provide public safety and social services to homeless residents in this stretch of woods in East Arlington, amidst reports of violence and drug distribution targeting the residents. The efforts have been fruitful, with town officials placing the vast majority of residents into permanent or transitional housing. The Arlington Police Department and Arlington Department of Health and Human Services are now urgently working to place the last handful of remaining residents into housing programs in the area.
These are allegations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty.