Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

September 5, 2013

Officer facing charges

Robitaille on paid leave since March incident

By Dustin Luca

---- — A local officer will appear in court Friday to determine whether he should be charged in an alleged hit-and-run, drunken driving accident in March.

Evan Robitaille, 32, who has been on paid administrative leave since the alleged incident, is scheduled to appear at a clerk magistrate’s hearing at Lowell District Court to answer a summons issued to him by State Police following the March 11 accident.

The “criminal summons” was for operating under the influence of liquor, leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to use care in starting, stopping, turning or backing up a motor vehicle, according to the State Police daily log for March 11.

At the hearing, a court magistrate will review the case and determine if there is enough evidence to issue a criminal complaint.

Stephanie Guyotte, spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney, said she couldn’t give additional details about the case because the investigation is continuing.

Andover Police Commander Charles Heseltine said Robitaille will “stay on paid administrative leave until (the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office) gives us the outcome of the case.”

When the department learns a police investigation involves one of its officers, whether in Andover or another jurisdiction, the officer is automatically placed on paid leave, according to Heseltine.

Robitaille was treated “just like any officer,” Heseltine said.

State Police Lt. Stephen Walsh, working out of the Andover barracks, said he couldn’t comment on the case beyond saying there was an investigation that resulted in the court summons.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s office issued a press release Aug. 8 asking for the public’s help identifying “a person who may have witnessed an automobile crash” on Interstate 495 south around Tewksbury “at about 9:30 a.m. on March 11, 2013.”

Guyotte declined comment on whether the press release was related to the summons issued to Robitaille, which was recorded in the State Police log at 9:30 a.m., March 11.

Robitaille was one of two Andover police officers honored by the Exchange Club of Lawrence as officers of the year for 2012 for their on-duty heroics in helping to save the life of a man who was not breathing.

In 2009, Robitaille was on the receiving end of an alleged drunken driving accident, according to a story in The Eagle-Tribune, The Andover Townsman’s sister newspaper. While stopping to check on a young woman walking after midnight on Route 28 near Phillips Academy in Andover, Robitaille’s cruiser was reportedly rear-ended by a vehicle driven by a 23-year-old Dracut woman.

The crash sent Robitaille to the hospital and totaled his cruiser, the story reported.

The woman was charged with operating under the influence, operating to endanger and speeding. The disposition of the charges is not known.

Robitaille was treated for back and neck pain after the crash and later released.

An attempt to reach Robitaille for a comment was unsuccessful.

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