FALL RIVER — A veteran officer of the Fall River Police Department was indicted this morning by a Bristol County grand jury on various charges related to the abuse of his authority as a law enforcement officer.

The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office says 40-year-old Michael Pessoa, a 17-year veteran of the Fall River Police Department, was indicted on the following charges: one count of aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon; one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon; two counts of assault and battery; four counts of civil rights violation with bodily injury; three counts of intimidation of a witness (misleading); three counts of filing a false report by a public officer; and one count of malicious destruction of property.

Pessoa has been suspended without pay from the Fall River Police Department.

The matter was referred to the D.A.’s Office in March of this year by Fall River Police and has been under investigation since that time. Investigators from the District Attorney’s Office worked with the Fall River Police Department throughout the investigation.

Officer Pessoa is accused of using excessive and unnecessary force in four separate incidents. The incidents occurred in 2014, 2018 and twice in 2019. He is also accused of violating the civil rights of arrestees and filing false police reports. The victims in at least three of the four cases received injuries that required trips to the hospital.

The investigation has been led and the case will be prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney William McCauley and Assistant District Attorney Michael Cahillane.

Pessoa is likely to be arraigned on the indictments this afternoon in Fall River Superior Court.

Lt. Gil Costa, spokesman for the Fall River Police Office of Professional Standards, issued the following statement:

“As a result of recent criminal indictments levied against Officer Michael Pessoa stemming from a number of ‘on duty’ incidents, Officer Pessoa was suspended without pay pending the litigation of these criminal matters. Since April 23, 2019, and while under criminal investigation, Officer Pessoa has been on paid administrative leave. Because this is a criminal matter, please direct all inquiries to the District Attorney’s office.”

 

Press releases from the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office and the Fall River Police Department were used in this report.