LOWELL -- When PAGIS (Plate Recognition Scanner) in his cruiser alerted him to a running car with a revoked registration outside a Gates Street home Saturday morning, Officer Charles Pappaconstrantinou parked his cruiser and waited.
With the car running, he knew the owner would be out soon and he would explain why he had called a tow truck.
Five minutes later, Devante Degree, 21, of 37 Gate St., allegedly ran outside and became to swear at the officer, asking him what he was doing by his girlfriend's car.
When the officer tried to explain he is required to have the vehicle towed, things went from bad to worse, according to court documents.
As the swearing increased, Degree allegedly told the officer to "take your badge off'' and challenged him to a fight, documents state.
Degree's girlfriend exited the home and allegedly joined in the tirade against the officer.
As Degree allegedly began advancing on Pappaconstrantinou, the officer called for more officers. Degree continued to circle around the officer, court documents state. Degree allegedly said he was going to drive away in the car, jumped in the driver's side and sat down in the driver's seat.
The officer yelled at Degree to exit the vehicle, which he did, but by then other officers had arrived. Degree appeared enraged and began to yell more obscenities at the officers, documents state.
Degree then removed something from the trunk and held it to his side, documents state. Believing their safety was in jeopardy, officers tried to handcuff Degree, but he allegedly pushed one officer into a chain-link fence.
Degree had removed two license plates from the trunk, which he dropped to the ground, as he began to throw punches at the officers, documents state.
Officers were able to subdue Degree by using a chemical spray.
The scuffle locked traffic from Gates Street to Thayer Street, police said.
What began as a routine procedure of towing a car with a revoked registration resulted in multiple police units being diverted to this quiet residential neighborhood, the officer wrote.
In Lowell District Court on Monday, Degree pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and battery on a police officer (two counts), disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Degree had his bail revoked on a pending case.
Defense attorney Anthony Martinelli said this incident is "not what is appears to be on paper.''
Martinelli said his client maintains that he went to remove the license plates off the car when the officer grabbed him, choked him and used chemical spray on Degree.
Martinelli said he is aware that a neighbor videotaped the encounter and may prove Degree's version on the incident.
Degree's next court date is Jan. 13 for a pretrial conference.
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