A Delaware Council on Police Training trial board this week unanimously found Bethany Beach Police Lt. Richard Haden guilty of five of the six charges filed against him in reference to a March 3 incident with his handling of a drunk-driving suspect.
The original incident was submitted to the Delaware Attorney General’s Office by Bethany Beach Police Chief Mike Redmon, and an indictment from the AG’s Office followed a review of the internal police department video of the incident. In August, Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley granted a Judgement of Acquittal, following a defense motion. Haden has been suspended since the day after the original incident, and without pay since the indictment was originally filed.
This has been a sad chapter for the Bethany Beach Police Department, Haden and the community as a whole. Many of us, particularly those in Bethany Beach, see this community as a panacea of peace and prosperity, and that ugly incidents simply don’t happen here.
We have watched the internal video of the incident countless times in this office. We have had law-enforcement people, a professor in criminal justice and untrained eyes like ours watch it frame-by-frame, and the general concensus is that ... well, there has been none. This is not one of those cases we have all seen on television where officers brutally attack a suspect in custody, but it is not an easy thing to watch, either. The ugly side of police work is rarely aesthetically pleasing, and things often get physical.
Remember, a trial judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to prosecute Haden for his actions that night. But a board of his law-enforcement peers ruled that he did not behave in accordance with the Delaware rules of law enforcement.
What we do take from this is that the Bethany Beach Police Department, and Town as a whole, do not take these situations lightly. They have high expectations for their peace officers, and they have exhibited that throughout this process. We also come out of this feeling sad that Haden, who has a long history of law enforcement in this community, will most likely not serve that police department in the future, and this will forever mark his record as he moves forward in life.
It is sad. It is unfortunate. And it is at least a small comfort that this process was played out in the legal system instead of just being brushed aside or Haden being ran over by powers-that-be.
That’s all we can really ask, right?