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Police Board Dismisses Charges of Harassment

The civilian Police Review and Advisory Board dismissed harassment charges against two Cambridge police officers in a hearing last night.

The board also voted in executive session to discuss "new regulations for the Cambridge police department" with the City Manager. Members did not elaborate on the nature of such regulations.

The Review Board has now dismissed charges on all three of the complaints it has heard since September, when a Superior Court judge gave it the power to subpoena officers. City Manager Robert W. Healy appointed the board last year.

Charges of harassment were filed by Cambridge resident Ralph Chang against Officers George Blair and David Fimiani. The Board heard testimony from the two subpoenaed officers, the complainant and his doctor.

Testimony revealed that Chang, who received a BS from MIT, had recently been released from a mental hospital and has been arrested more than 20 times. Chang objected that the lines of questioning were personal and irrelevant, but the board overruled him.

Chang testified that, after practicing martial arts in a children's play-ground, he fell asleep on a "wooden board supported by two springs." He said Blair woke him and told him to move--and although he obeyed, the officer harassed him, twisting his arm behind his back and slamming him against a police car.

Blair testified that he answered a call, and finding Chang on a "teetertotter," asked him to leave the play-ground. Although Chang left, the officer said, he soon became verbally abusive and "flailed out his arms." The officer testified that he restrained Chang with only the necessary force, and arrested him for disorderly conduct.

Chang also testified that although Fimiani was not present at the beginning of the incident, he called him an "asshole" during the arrest itself--which Fimiani denied.

Chang testified that when he asked for Blair's name, he said, "You'll find my name out on an arrest report." Chang conceded, however, that in his previous encounters with Blair, the officer was friendly and never harassed him.

Over the objections of the officers' counsel, Douglas Louison, the board permitted Chang's doctor to testify as a character witness. Dr. David Greenleaf said that, although Chang would never intend to harm anyone, he has demonstrated a "difficulty with authority figures."

Throughout the hearing, Chang frequently and periodically rose from his seat, turned around and sat down.

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