PORTLAND (AP) – Two Portland police detectives will be tried together on charges they beat a handcuffed suspect during an arrest last year, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Superior Court Justice Roland Cole said Patrick DeCourcey and Brian Regan should be tried together because the alleged beating took place in front of the same group of witnesses. Cole, who will be the trial judge, said he believed the jury can treat each defendant separately when it comes time to reach a verdict.

“I will take all the steps possible to assure that both defendants will get a fair trial,” Cole said.

The officers’ attorneys, however, said Cole’s decision will force the officers to testify against each other while they are on trial. The trial is scheduled to begin June 9 in Cumberland County Superior Court.

DeCourcey’s lawyer, Richard Berne, said the decision to join the cases would be grounds for an appeal if there is a conviction.

“Each defendant turns into the government’s best witness (against the other),” Berne argued to Cole. “If they are tried together, there is no way these defendants can get a fair trial.”

District Attorney Stephanie Anderson argued that the cases belonged together and separate trials would be a waste of the court’s time and money.

“The defense will be, ‘The other guy did it’, whether we try the case once or twice,” she said.

Regan and DeCourcey were on a plainclothes assignment with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency on Sept. 26, 2002, when Esposito led them on a car chase at speeds of up to 90 mph in Portland.

Police said the officers, who had previously arrested Esposito on cocaine charges, had spotted him in a car and realized he was driving without a license.

DeCourcey and Regan are accused of beating Esposito while handcuffed badly enough that he had to be hospitalized for two days.

DeCourcey is charged with aggravated assault and criminal threatening. Regan has been charged with misdemeanor assault and tampering with a witness.

Since the officers were indicted, they have been named in two excessive force lawsuits filed by Michael Esposito and another person who claims he was beaten while in their custody. Both officers are on unpaid leave from the department and were not in court Tuesday.

AP-ES-05-21-03 0224EDT

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