Bethany Beach police officer indicted on assault charge

Last week, the Delaware Attorney General’s office announced that an investigation of Bethany Beach Police Department Lt. Richard Haden by its Criminal Investigations Unit had resulted in his arrest.

Coastal Point : Haden Haden

Haden, 45, was investigated following a March 3 incident at the Bethany Beach police station, in which he allegedly assaulted a suspect in custody.

“The police chief learned of this incident soon after it occurred. Within days of the incident, the Town, the chief and the mayor, referred this incident to the Attorney General’s Office,” said Jason Miller, public information officer for the Delaware Department of Justice.

Bethany Beach Police Chief Michael Redmon said that the incident was reported to him on March 4.

“It was reported internally, and the victim reported it upon his release from the Department of Corrections,” he said. “He was initially suspended from the job on March the 4th with pay and benefits,” Redmon said of Haden. “With his indictment status, it was changed to suspended without pay and benefits.”

Redmon said that he did not know if the alleged victim had a previous record, and that his department had no prior history with the detainee. He added that the victim was detained due to inappropriate behavior but did not resist the officers arresting him.

Redmon declined to comment as to whether Haden had had previous complaints lodged against him. In 2009, Haden was named Bethany Beach Police Officer of the Year.

“Rick Haden was a lieutenant with the department. He’s been here 10 years. He is my accreditation manager, in charge of our CALEA [Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies]. He is a policy writer, as well as overseeing the entire patrol division.”

Haden 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.”

Redmon said that his department had not dealt with similar allegations in the past.

“It is infrequent that a police officer is the subject of a criminal investigation. That is an infrequent occurrence,” added Miller.

Redmon said that there was video surveillance that captured the incident but declined to release it to the Coastal Point. Miller declined to elaborate on Haden’s charges.

“I can’t comment on the evidence that we have at this point,” he said. “Certainly, it was an incident that rose to the level of an assault under Delaware law.”

Miller said that the Town of Bethany Beach cooperated fully in the Attorney General’s investigation.

“Very quickly after the incident, the Town learned of it, initiated an internal review and quickly determined the best course of action would be to refer it to the Attorney General’s Office and did so.”

As a result of its investigation, the Attorney General’s Office secured an indictment Monday, April 22, from the Sussex County Grand Jury, charging Haden with one count of Assault 3rd Degree. Haden turned himself in to Capital Police in Georgetown on April 22. After being arraigned, he was released on $500 unsecured bond. The next proceeding is a case review scheduled for May 20.

The AG’s Office emphasized that an indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a jury trial at which the State bears the burden of proving each charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

When asked if Haden had the department’s support, Redmon said, “We are standing in a neutral position. Obviously, there was enough here that he was indicted. We support the Department of Justice.”

Haden could not be reached for comment by Coastal Point’s Wednesday deadline.