NEWBURYPORT — A homeless man faces a malicious destruction of property charge after police say he damaged a camera in his jail cell Wednesday. 

Michael Collins, who gave police a Salem address but told a Newburyport District Court judge on Thursday that he was living in his car, was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon near Waterfront Park. 

Several police cars responded to the parking lot near Waterfront Park about 3:30 p.m. after receiving calls of a suspicious person in a parked car. When police arrived, the shirtless Collins appeared heavily intoxicated. As a precaution, officers handcuffed Collins and placed him in protective custody. 

Collins, however, became belligerent as the officers led him to a police cruiser. 

At the police station, Collins continued to be aggressive. Once placed in a cell, he began "punching and hitting the surveillance camera," Newburyport police Officer Eric Marshall wrote in his report. 

Collins continued pummeling the camera until dislodging it from its casing, rendering it inoperable. He also began spitting at the cell door. 

Police were forced to place Collins in a cell with a working camera and hire a cleaning crew to decontaminate the cell, according to Marshall's report. 

At Collins' arraignment Thursday, an Essex County prosecutor asked Judge Peter Doyle to hold him on $250 cash bail. 

"This isn't the first time something similar has happened," prosecutor Shailagh Kennedy said. 

But Doyle released Collins on personal recognizance and ordered him to remain drug and alcohol free while awaiting a possible trial.

Collins is due back in court Oct. 15 for a pretrial hearing. 

Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

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