LEOMINSTER – On the afternoon of Thursday, March 16, 2023, Officer James McKenna of the Leominster Police Department was dispatched to a group home run by Catholic Charities at 196 Mechanic Street following a report of a resident yelling and throwing things around.
“When I arrived, two staff members advised me that the female party in question was very agitated and violent,” wrote Officer McKenna in his Narrative for the incident. “She advised me that an additional officer will most likely be necessary to control her. Officer [Carl] Crawford was already responding.”
When Officer Crawford arrived on scene, he and Officer McKenna went to the third floor of the Mechanic Street building to meet with Britney Rutherford, 29, the woman who was initially reported to police. Her disposition was not what the officers expected based on the staff members’ accounts.
“Britney was calm and conversational with officers,” wrote Officer McKenna in his Narrative for the incident. “No force or coercion was required to control her. Britney stated that she was extremely angry and admitted to throwing water bottles in the direction of other people. She stated it was never her intention to hit anyone.”
After speaking with Rutherford, Officer McKenna ran a criminal justice query of her through dispatch and found out that she had three warrants out for her arrest. She was arrested for the warrants and booked at the Leominster Police Department by Lieutenant Ryan Malatos.
Officer McKenna then spoke with one of the group home’s staff members, Lesley O’Connell. According to Officer McKenna, O’Connell said that Rutherford got in an argument that began in the kitchen and ended in her room.
“Lesley stated that she was in the staff office when she heard the commotion and located the disturbance,” wrote Officer McKenna in his Narrative. “Lesley stated that as she was in front of Britney’s room during the late stages of the argument, she noticed an object move right by her head. She was unsure what that object was, but Lesley stated she was placed in fear that the object was going to strike her.”
O’Connell later located a “durable, sturdy black backpack” in the staff office, which she believed was thrown at her, before it bounced off the wall and ricocheted into the staff office.
Officer McKenna then spoke with Chloe Cunningham, the program manager of the group home.
“I asked Chloe to explain to me what happened,” wrote Officer McKenna in his Narrative. “Chloe stated that yesterday, she and Britney engaged in a ‘business venture’ where they split a case of water. The waters were reportedly brought to Britney’s bedroom. Chloe stated that earlier, she had asked Britney for some water near the threshold of Britney’s bedroom. This reportedly aggravated Britney which apparently provoked her to begin throwing water bottles while saying, ‘f$ck you, you’re a fake bitch.’”
According to Officer McKenna, Cunningham said Rutherford threw multiple bottles in her direction, one of which was thrown directly at her head. Cunningham said she had to move her head out of the way in order to dodge the water bottle, which would have struck her otherwise.
Rutherford was charged with two counts of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon.
She was held without bail prior to her arraignment on March 17 in Leominster District Court.
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Disclaimer 2: If you are wondering why the incident in this story was from late March, that’s because I had to file FOIA request(s) to get the court documents for the incident. FOIAs are time consuming.