Three Haverhill Police Receive Injuries; Pepper Spray, Tase Alleged Assailant in Loose Dog Case

(Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

A 51-year-old man returns to court Wednesday after being charged with assaulting three Haverhill police officers Friday who were investigating a loose dog complaint.

Following up on a story reported first by WHAV News Monday morning, 51-year-old Theodore D. Gilford, 268 Brandy Brow Road, Merrimac, appeared before Haverhill District Court First Justice Patricia Dowling to answer to charges of assault and battery on police officers, criminal harassment, witness intimidation, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Gilford’s address begins in Merrimac, but his home is physically located in Haverhill.

Police say they were forced to pepper spray and Tase Gilford after he resisted arrest in woods outside by Sgt. Jamie R. Landry and Officers and Penny A. Portalla and Jason E. Pearl. In her report, Portalla said “(Gilford) was creating a dangerous situation in which he and officers (Landry and Portalla) were at risk of injury” in an area “littered with numerous sticks, branches and rocks.” She attempted to pepper spray Gilford twice with little effect because of the cold temperature. Pearl then came to the officers’ aid and reportedly was almost bit by the still-struggling Gilford who managed to grab Pearl’s leg. With additional police approaching, according to police reports, Gilford relented and placed his hands behind his back.

The struggle began before 2:30 p.m. when Haverhill Police Animal Control Officer Michelle L. Cannon was dispatched to the home of Eric Klimas, 3 East Meadow Drive, Haverhill. Klimas complained of Gilford’s loose Beagle, named Freckles, on his property. Cannon, who reported she has had “multiple dealings” with Gilford and his lost dog before, said she came upon Gilford walking near adjacent Brandy Brow Road. After asking if Gilford had found Freckles, she reported he “very aggressively and quickly came towards myself and Mr. Klimas with his arms out in aggressive and assaultive manner.”

Besides Portalla and Landry, Haverhill Officer Ryan Connolly arrived to back up Cannon just Landry approached Gilford near the end of Brandy Brow Road. Trinity EMS assisted in decontaminating Gilford from the pepper spray. Ambulance personnel then took him to Holy Family Hospital, Haverhill, for evaluation and treatment of the Taser prongs. He was taken to the Haverhill Police station after being discharged around 9:45 p.m.

Gilford had been scheduled to answer a court complaint earlier Friday on past charges of failing to leash his dog. Both Cannon and Klimas were scheduled as witnesses, but Gilford claimed illness and left the court before his case was heard. Haverhill Animal Control say there have been at least eight complaints about Freckles.

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