MEXICO — A Dixfield patrolman who was injured Saturday night while helping two Mexico officers arrest a Mexico man on charge of drunken driving will be sidelined for at least two months, Chief Richard A. Pickett said Tuesday afternoon in Dixfield.
“We’ll be on piecemeal shifts until we get through it, playing it day by day,” Pickett said of the loss of Jeffrey Howe.
The full-time force is reduced to three officers.
Mexico police Chief Jim Theriault said Tuesday that Howe’s right hand was broken by Joseph T. Thibodeau, 36, of Mexico during a struggle with Howe and Mexico Patrolman Dean Benson, who were trying to handcuff Thibodeau inside his trailer at 105 Kimball Ave.
“He was given a head butt, and Jeff got his hand caught between (Thibodeau’s) head and the bed,” Theriault said.
At his arraignment Tuesday in Rumford District Court, Thibodeau was charged with assaulting an officer, a Class C felony, criminal operating under the influence, refusing to submit to arrest, and driving to endanger.
Unable to post bail of either $250 cash or $5,000 worth of real estate, Thibodeau was returned to Oxford County Jail in Paris, where he has been since Saturday night.
Due to the felony, Thibodeau’s case was transferred Tuesday to Oxford County Superior Court in Paris, where it will continue at 8 a.m. March 22.
Thibodeau’s day Saturday went from bad to worse. At about 3:20 p.m., he lost control of his 1990 Buick Electra on a slushy Route 17. The car slid sideways across the opposite lane, went down an embankment, caught a culvert, flipped onto the roof, and slid into and atop a stone wall at 660 Roxbury Road, also called Route 17.
Thibodeau, who complained of neck and leg pain, was taken by Med-Care Ambulance to Rumford Hospital, where he admitted he was going 80 mph and had been drinking, according to a statement by Mexico Officer Bernadette Dickinson.
Theriault said that because Dickinson thought Thibodeau was being transferred to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, she didn’t arrest him at Rumford Hospital on a charge of drunken driving.
However, Benson later learned that Thibodeau was released from Rumford Hospital, and went with Howe and Dickinson to arrest Thibodeau at his home, Theriault said.
Thibodeau refused to come out and wouldn’t let them in, so Benson was sent to get an arrest warrant, the Mexico chief said.
When he returned, Howe and Benson kicked the door in and entered, Theriault said.
According to her statement, Dickinson remained outside until after she heard two loud crashes and both officers repeatedly telling Thibodeau to show his hands and stop resisting.
Thibodeau remained combative until the officers got him into a cruiser, and threatened to harm Benson and his family, Dickinson stated.
She charged Thibodeau with OUI, refusing to submit to arrest, assaulting an officer, criminal threatening, and failure to sign a citation. Unable to post $500 cash bail Saturday night, Thibodeau was taken to the Paris jail.