Last week, after an almost eight-hour-long jury trial, Bethany Beach Police Department Lt. Richard Haden was acquitted of charges that he had assaulted a suspect in custody at the police department this spring.
On Wednesday, Aug. 28, Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley granted a defense motion filed by one of Haden’s two attorneys, Joe Hurley, resulting in the acquittal, which Hurley described this week as “a smart decision by the judge.”
“I am grateful to all the people praying for me,” said Haden after his acquittal. “I am grateful that the legal system works, and I look forward to the future and whatever it may hold.
“I thank my supporters,” he added. “The community support I had throughout the entire process has been overwhelming. It makes me extremely emotional, how many people have come up to me during this entire process with well-wishes, and me not being able to speak about any of the details.”
Haden was indicted on the assault charge in April and turned himself in to Capital Police in Georgetown that same day. After being arraigned, he was released on $500 unsecured bond. He was charged with Assault in the Third Degree, which, according to Delaware Code §611, is a Class A misdemeanor.
According to the code, “A person is guilty of assault in the third degree when: (1) The person intentionally or recklessly causes physical injury to another person; or (2) With criminal negligence the person causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.”
The indictment came after Bethany Police Chief Mike Redmon had reviewed video of Haden interacting on March 3 with a 45-year-old man in police custody on suspicion of drunk driving, and had referred the incident to the Attorney General’s Office.
Haden was suspended from his job on March 4, with pay and benefits. However, following the indictment, Haden was suspended without pay or benefits.
“I’m struggling on a daily basis to continue to pay my bills,” said Haden. “Only my faith in God has kept me alive. That’s the only thing that has kept me going. My wife has had to pick up as much overtime as she can to pay the bills,” he continued. “She’s become ill and exhausted from the whole thing. It has been almost six months of our lives in absolute disarray because of an improper allegation and an uninvestigated allegation.”
Haden said he has yet to hear from the Town of Bethany Beach following his acquittal.
“I look forward to the Town’s response from this. I have yet to hear anything from the Town.”
Calls to Bethany Beach Police Chief Mike Redmon were not returned by Coastal Point’s Wednesday press deadline. Haden declined to comment as to whether or not he would return to his position in the department.
During his 10-year career with the BBPD, Haden was named Bethany Beach Police Officer of the Year in 2009, was the accreditation manager for the department, in charge of CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies), was a policy writer and oversaw the entire patrol division. Until the March incident, he had not had any complaints lodged against him.
Haden said the last few months have turned his family’s world “upside-down” and that he is “joyful” about the outcome.
“This event has wreaked havoc on me emotionally, physically, psychologically. It has been a terrible event for my family, my children — having my children placed, over the course of five weeks, all over various local and regional news outlets. The allegations that were made — my children have lost a lot of sleep being physically scared,” he said.
“I’ve been hopeful this entire time,” he noted. “That’s come through my faith. The only peace I’ve found through this entire thing is by turning to my faith, and that’s how my family has gotten through this.”
Haden said that, over the last few months, the wrongful allegation took a significant toll on his 16-year-old son and 14-year-old daughters.
“Friends were sending them pictures of their father on television, not knowing that that hurt my children,” he said. “They’re old enough that they remember everything.”
Haden said that he continues to be fearful for his children’s safety, after a man that lives within a half-mile from the family’s home allegedly threatened them and his wife.
“It has gotten me physically ill. I have suffered extreme weight loss,” he said.
Haden said this is only the first chapter of the story, as he has yet to hear from the Town. He added that he still needs to go through an internal affairs trail but that he is thankful for his attorneys, Joe Hurley and John Brady.
“They were so well prepared. I don’t think I could have had better legal representation. They were on top of everything throughout the entire course of the criminal trial. I don’t think I’d have had the outcome had I not had that legal team.”
Haden also credited his survival to his time in the service, his wife and his faith.
“I feel, if I hadn’t gone through Marine Corps training, I wouldn’t have had the psychological ability to endure,” he said. “I have great hope for the future because I have my faith.
“And one of the greatest blessings through this whole thing is my marriage has gotten stronger,” he added. “I am married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who has stood by me through the entire thing. Even though at times she didn’t understand, she has been right there with me. I can’t thank her or love her enough. I want to stand on the rooftops and shout, ‘My wife is awesome.’”
Haden added that he has been humbled by the experience and cannot truly express how grateful he is for the community’s support.
“I can’t even put to words how appreciative I am,” he said. “I was humbled throughout the entire situation. Being humbled is a great place to live. There are positives that I’m trying to take out of it. It happened for a reason — I don’t know what it is, but I know at some point it will all become hindsight.”