WPD officer on Berkshire DA’s misconduct watch list

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Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington’s office put Williamstown Police Department (WPD) officer Craig Eichhammer on a list of police officers flagged by the office for having engaged in or having been accused of misconduct that would undermine their credibility as witnesses in court. The list was publicly released on Monday. 

Williamstown Police Chief Kyle Johnson told WBUR that Eichhammer is still employed by the WPD. Johnson declined to comment for this article.  

The list, which is sometimes referred to as a Brady list, was included in an internal memorandum sent by the District Attorney’s Brady Review Board on Sept. 25, and was obtained by WBUR through a public records request.  It includes seven other officers apart from Eichhammer, including four in the Pittsfield Police Department, two in the Great Barrington Police Department and one in the Dalton Police Department. 

According to Andrew McKeever, public information officer at the DA’s office, officers were included on the Berkshire DA’s Brady list if they had a history of alleged conduct that would undermine their credibility in court, which would have to be disclosed to the defense counsel. This includes, McKeever said, allegations of “dishonesty, bias, racial profiling, malicious harassment, pending criminal charges, failure to pass proficiency exams for any potential witnesses, etc.” 

McKeever told the Record that the list was created by the DA’s office as part of its Brady policy adopted in July 2020. The policy details the requirements for prosecutors in disclosing evidence to the defense that could help the accused, as required by the Supreme Court’s landmark 1963 Brady v. Maryland decision.

“The Office’s Brady Review Team reviews information from various sources to determine if there is potential Brady material subject to disclosure,” he added. “Our office also asked local police to review their records and provide us notification of potential Brady material. We just recently made that request and that process is underway.”

The release of the DA’s office’s list comes on the heels of a federal lawsuit filed in August against Johnson, Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch ’95 and Williamstown itself.  The lawsuit alleges instances of racial harassment, anti-Semitism and sexual assault committed by Johnson and unnamed WPD officers. 

Although the town has denied the allegations against Johnson, it admitted a 2014 racial harassment incident and did not deny two allegations — that a photograph of Adolf Hitler was hung in a WPD officer’s station locker and that a WPD officer commited sexual assault in 2011.

According to WBUR, none of the Pittsfield Police Department officers on the list remain employed by the department. The memorandum also designates two Pittsfield Police Department officers who “should not be called as a witness without prior approval.” Of the two, Michael McHugh was sentenced to a year in jail after being convicted of assault and filing a false police report in 2016. The other, Dale Eason, was fired in 2016 for falsifying an arrest report, although he was reinstated with back pay in 2019. 

Of the two Great Barrington Police Department officers on the list, only one remains employed by the department. The Dalton Police Department officer on the list was fired for failing to respond appropriately to a suicide call and is currently in arbitration over his termination.

Peggy Kern, a local organizer involved in the grassroots Williamstown Racial Justice & Police Reform group, said that the list’s release casts doubt on past and current cases involving Eichhammer. 

“The Brady list is reserved for officers who have demonstrated a pattern of behavior so egregious, the court now questions their credibility,” Kern said. “For Williamstown residents, this not only means that past cases can be revisited, it means any investigation or crime scene this officer is involved in moving forward will also be in doubt.”

Kern also criticized the Town for its inaction over the lawsuit’s allegations in light of the DA’s Brady list being released. 

“During the last Select Board meeting, Jason Hoch state[d] there were no further MCAD [Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination] complaints against our police department,” she said. “Well, it turns out we have something worse: A Brady list officer who is still in the job.”