SALISBURY — Witnesses said Methuen police officer Shawn Tardif was "in a rage" when he grabbed a 25-year-old woman attending a bachelorette party, forced her to the floor and then dragged her by the hair in a bar brawl Saturday night.
It took two security guards to get Tardif off the woman and Tardif punched one of the guards in the mouth, according to a Salisbury police report.
The woman allegedly assaulted, identified as Nicole Morrison, showed police a "clump of hair" Tardif allegedly ripped from her scalp during the 11:20 p.m. altercation at the Surfside 5 bar and restaurant at 23 Broadway, the police report said. The report did not say where Morrison lives.
Tardif, 38, was off duty and with his wife Stacey, 44, and other friends Saturday night. Meanwhile, Morrison was with another group of women celebrating a bachelorette party at the Surfside 5, according to Leavitt's report.
The six-year Methuen police officer was charged with assault and battery and malicious destruction of property valued over $250. He is scheduled to be arraigned today in Newburyport District Court and was on paid administrative leave from the Methuen police force.
The altercation occurred after tension between the two groups escalated that night and Morrison allegedly threw a drink at Stacey Tardif and then bit a man who was trying to break up the fight, according to the police report.
In the report, Leavitt wrote that he may issue Morrison a summons for assault and battery charges as a result of his investigation.
Saturday night, Leavitt said he and other officers were "flagged down" and told there was a disturbance at the Surfside 5. The officer spoke with women attending the bachelorette party and Tardif's group, comprised of about six people.
At some point during the night, while people were dancing on the outdoor deck, "females from the bachelorette party were confronted by wives from the other group telling the females to stay away from the husbands," Leavitt wrote. "According to both groups, this caused friction between the groups and a more serious altercation ensued."
As he questioned people at the bar, Leavitt said two versions of events emerged — the first being that Morrision "attacked" Stacey Tardif and "threw a drink at her." This caused Shawn Tardif "to interject and grab Morrison in an effort to get her away from his wife," Leavitt wrote. Tardif's friend, Jeffrey Guertin, 38, stepped in to break up the fight and said he was bitten by Morrison, Leavitt wrote.
However, the other version of what happened, "the primary version by every other witness other than the Guertin/Tardif group," centered around Shawn Tardif and Guertin being "very flirtatious with the bachelorette party" and two women at the party in particular, according to Leavitt's report. The men were told several times by the bachelorette party to leave them alone, "which they finally did." The wives then confronted the women "telling them to stay away from their husbands," Leavitt wrote.
Tardif was identified by witnesses as the "male agressor," Leavitt wrote.
Morrison told Leavitt she was grabbed from behind by the neck, ripped to the ground "and pulled from side to side while being dragged by her hair and she showed me a clump of hair in her hand," he wrote. Morrison also said she got her bracelet tangled in Tardif's glasses and one of her earrings was ripped out.
Two security guards jumped in to break it up and Tardif punched one of them in the face, witnesses told Leavitt.
"During this altercation, it was reported that Tardif was dragging Morrison across the dance floor and was described as being 'in a rage,'" Leavitt wrote.
DJ equipment belonging to Ryan Oiler, 35, including a laptop computer, turntable and stand valued at $5,000, was also damaged, according to police.
Bystanders soon learned Tardif was a cop and were yelling, saying "we were going to let him go," Leavitt wrote. Leavitt said he told the bystanders "if, in fact, Tardif was a police officer, it wouldn't matter."
As Leavitt placed Tardif under arrest, Stacey Tardif and Guertin both told him they wanted to pursue assault and battery charges against Morrison. Both Morrison and Guertin were evaluated at the scene by ambulance workers. They both refused further medical treatment, however.
As he was booked, Leavitt said Tardif told him he "was reacting to his wife getting grabbed" and denied any other wrongdoing and damaging the DJ equipment. He also said he wanted to file charges against Morrison because his glasses and gold chain were broken, Leavitt wrote in his report.
After booking Tardif, Leavitt said he went back to the Surfside 5 and told Morrison she may also face criminal charges and that he was continuing his investigation.
Police also hope to view surveillance video from the Surfside. However, workers said there was a "power surge" earlier Saturday which may have affected the video.