Off-duty officers involved in brawl

State, city police to investigate incident


The News Journal — Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wilmington police are investigating an altercation that occurred early Saturday morning on North Union Street involving two men and two off-duty police officers, authorities said.

The incident happened about 2 a.m. in the 300 block of N. Union St. and involved an off-duty Wilmington police officer and a state trooper, Master Sgt. Mark Lemon said in a press release.

It said the investigation is ongoing but offered no details about the altercation, how it started or the identities of those involved. It also did not say if anyone was injured or charged.

John Rago, spokesman for Mayor James M. Baker, referred to the press release as the mayor’s statement.

Sgt. Walter Newton, a state police spokesman, confirmed that a state trooper was involved.

When Wilmington police complete their investigation, the state police’s Internal Investigation Unit will determine if further action is needed, he said.

Newton said he could not release the officer’s name Saturday night because no charges had been filed. He added that he did not know if the officer was the aggressor or victim, making it inappropriate to release his name.

Newton said the department’s executive staff, which includes Col. Robert Coupe, had been made aware of the incident.

According to Wilmington Councilman Mike Brown, the fight took place at a bar owned by the Wilmington police officer involved in the altercation.

Brown, who said he learned about it from constituents and then contacted police to verify, said the two men entered the bar and at some point began arguing with the owner and the state trooper. The altercation escalated, Brown said, and spilled into the street, where a Wilmington police officer on patrol spotted the fight and broke it up.

The fight allegedly took place only a few blocks from a hostage situation where Wilmington police, including the SWAT unit, spent nearly five hours trying to talk down an armed man who had shot three people, killing one.