ATHOL — On Wednesday, July 20 at 7:12 p.m., dispatch received a 911 call from a 22-year-old Athol resident named Jose Rodriguez, who asked to speak with the fire department.
According to the Narrative for Athol Police Officer Courtney Call, dispatch ascertained that Rodriguez wanted an ambulance for a “genitalia issue.”
The Athol Fire and Police Departments were dispatched to Rodriguez’s apartment, which is located in a house at 74 Concord Street.
“Due to the history with Jose, Officer Call, Officer Corey Chauvette and Sergeant Jarret Mousseau responded,” wrote Officer Call in her Narrative.
When Officer Call arrived on scene, dispatch notified her that even though Rodriguez could hear her on the other side of his apartment door, he was refusing to open it. According to Officer Call’s Narrative, she was still in her cruiser at this time, parked on the side of the road. Officer Call remained in her cruiser until the other two officers arrived. When all three responding officers were on scene, they collectively made their way to the residence.
As they approached the back of the house where Rodriguez’s apartment was located, he walked out from around the corner completely naked, holding a butcher knife, with a pink shirt tied around his head.
“Officers yelled for him to put the knife down. He stopped walking towards the officers. Officer Call drew her taser along with Officer Chauvette and Sgt. Mousseau drew his firearm,” wrote Officer Call in her Narrative. “Officer Call advised him that if he did not put the knife down, he would be tased.”
After this, Rodriguez returned to his apartment. Officer Call et al. contacted Massachusetts State Police and the Orange Police Department for backup.
Five minutes later, Orange Police Officers Evangeline Cakounes and Benjamin Kovacevic arrived on scene. At 7:45 p.m., they were joined by a trooper with the Massachusetts State Police. Officer Adam Cooley of the Orange Police Department arrived shortly thereafter.
According to Officer Call, Rodriquez came back to the stairs of the residence and began speaking with the officers, knife in hand.
“Officer Call and Sgt. Mousseau were able to speak with him for a few minutes and attempt to de-escalate him,” wrote Officer Call in her Narrative. “Jose stated he didn’t want to go to the hospital and wanted to go to jail after he made the news.”
At one point during the discussion, Officer Call said Rodriguez began to walk toward the officers, at which point they “demanded” that he drop the knife or he would be tased.
“He stopped walking towards the officers but still had the knife in his hand. When Sgt. Mousseau was attempting to listen to Jose speak, he raised his right arm (with the knife in his hand) acting as if he was going to throw it at the officers. This happened on multiple occasions. Jose would walk out of the apartment and hit the side of the house and stair railing with the knife. Jose had also held the knife to his throat and dragged it across the front of his throat to the back of his neck, without injuring himself. During this incident Jose had also hit himself on the genitalia and on his right leg several times with the sharp side of the knife.”
According to Officer Call, every time Rodriguez would approach the officers, they would draw their guns and tasers. When Orange Police Officer Kovacevic and Athol Police Officer Chauvette attempted to approach Jose from the other side of the house (behind him), as soon as he heard footsteps and the crackling of leaves, Rodriguez walked toward them, gesturing that he was going to throw the knife in their direction.
“At one point, Jose threatened to run down the embankment to The Boston Garden Dispensary (across the street). Sgt. Mousseau requested dispatch make contact with them [those at the dispensary] to lock their doors,” wrote Officer Call in her Narrative.
Troopers from the State Police waited outside the Main Street side of the house in case Rodriguez did make a run for it.
“Jose made multiple threats to burn the house down,” wrote Officer Call in her Narrative. “He stated multiple times that he did not want to go to the hospital and wanted to go to jail.”
At this time, police evacuated the apartments in the residence and called in a swat response from the Massachusetts Special Tactics and Operations Team (STOP) team.
Officer Call said that she then approached Rodriguez in an attempt to speak with him to deescalate the situation. As she approached the stairs, she saw Rodriguez laughing while holding a black and white cat by the neck, with the butcher knife at its throat.
“A short time later, Jose then came out of the apartment with two knives in the same hand. He then threatened to burn the house down again,” wrote Officer Call. “Jose kept verbally taunting the officers to take the knife from him.”
While waiting for the STOP team, Orange Police Officer Cakounes secured the Concord Road side of the house.
Officer Call then called Athol Memorial Hospital’s emergency department doctor to get a Section 12 for Rodriguez. (A Section 12 is a compulsory admission of a mentally disordered person to a hospital. It’s governed by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 123, Section 12).
While on the phone, Officer Call turned around after hearing the crackling of tasers. She then saw a State Trooper, Athol Police Officer Chauvette, and Orange Police Officers Lieutenant Cooley run down the stairs.
“Officer Call hung up the phone and ran to assist the officers. Officer Call approached and saw that Jose had been tased twice with three taser prongs still attached to him,” Officer Call wrote in her Narrative. “All four officers were attempting to handcuff him but he was resisting and trying to get up. Two sets of handcuffs were used to place Jose in custody. [As] Athol Police Officer Chauvette read Jose his Miranda rights, Jose yelled at him to ‘shut up.’”
As he was being escorted to the cruiser, Rodriguez was offered “multiple items of clothing,” all of which he refused. Officers wrapped a fire department blanket around him instead.
Rodriguez was then transported to Athol Memorial Hospital where he was evaluated and checked for additional taser prongs. After he was cleared, Officer Call took Rodriguez back to the Athol Police Department for booking.
The bail commissioner set Rodriguez’s bail at $50,000 plus a $40 fee.
“While in booking, Jose refused to answer any of Sgt. Mousseau’s questions. Officers attempted to transition him from both hands being cuffed, to one hand being cuffed to the chairs. He refused to cooperate.”
At 9:48 p.m., Officer Chauvette transported Rodriguez to the Franklin County House of Corrections.
Toward the end of her Narrative, Officer Call wrote, “Please note that during this incident, there were two parties across the street watching, and there were several people in the back yard of the house at 98 Concord Street also watching. All parties had a clear view of Jose while he was naked.”
Rodriguez was charged with the following: Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, Indecent Exposure, Disorderly Conduct, Animal Cruelty, Disturbing the Peace, Threat to Commit a Crime: Murder, Threat to Commit a Crime: Arson, and Resisting Arrest.
He was arraigned in Orange District Court on July 22.
Rodriguez is scheduled to appear in court again on Oct. 3 for a pretrial hearing.
Disclaimer: If you are wondering why the incident in this story was from August, that’s because I had to file a FOIA request to get the court documents for the incident. FOIAs are time consuming.