NEWBURYPORT — A dispute over a folding chair at Cashman Park led to a Hardy Street man’s arrest Tuesday after he fled from police.

Earl Pierce, 59, was charged with disorderly conduct (subsequent offense), reckless operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop/yield, speeding and resisting arrest, according to court records. 

At his arraignment Wednesday in Newburyport District Court, he was released on personal recognizance but ordered to return to court for a mental competency evaluation by a court clinician. 

In 2019, Pierce was sentenced to two years of probation after pleading guilty to vandalizing property and assault charges stemming from a June 2019 incident when he smashed the front door of a neighbor’s house with a metal rod while drunk, according to court records. 

In the most recent incident Tuesday about 5 p.m., Pierce sat down in a folding chair belonging to someone else near the river’s edge. The perplexed owner asked Pierce why he was sitting in her chair and Pierce claimed the chair belonged to him and she had stolen it, according to police.

“He continued to yell as she asked him to remove himself from her chair. It was not until (the chair owner) informed Mr. Pierce that the police were being contacted that he got up from the seat,” Officer Eric Marshall wrote in his report. 

By the time police arrived, Pierce had begun driving away in a white Ford Focus. Pierce stopped driving when police caught up with him and got out of the car, continuing to insist the chair belonged to him 

“I have dealt with Mr. Pierce on previous occasions and found his current actions to be out of sorts for him,” Marshall wrote in his report. 

Pierce agreed to take a blood-alcohol level test and passed. Despite not being under the influence, Pierce was causing fear to the public, according to the report.

As Marshall and Officer Michael Wilichoski stepped away from Pierce, he walked back to his car and sped off. Officers began chasing him but temporarily lost him in a maze of streets.

It was only after about 20 minutes that his Ford Focus was found parked at the end of Colby Farm Road. By the time police arrested him, Pierce was covered in mud and grass and wearing only one shoe, according to Marshall’s report. 

“Any reasonable person would know that the interaction with police was not over and he was not free to leave,” Marshall wrote in his report. 

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