Lowell Police Supt. William Taylor, left, at Thursday’s hearing.Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
Lowell Police Supt. William Taylor, left, at Thursday's hearing.

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

LOWELL -- The attorney for Lowell Police Lt. Thomas Siopes, a veteran officer facing termination for failing to seek medical assistance for Alyssa Brame who died in police custody, said numerous officers have confirmed that highly intoxicated people are "routinely" carried into cells.

Under cross-examination during the continuation of Siopes' termination hearing Thursday, Lowell Police Superintendent William Taylor testified that his rule is that "if people need to be carried in, then they're in obvious need of medical attention."

A police video shows Brame, 31, being carried into the police station and placed in a cell during the Jan. 13, 2013 incident. Brame died of alcohol poisoning.

Taylor acknowledged that both Sgt. Michael Giuffrida and Officer William Florence, certified emergency medical technicians (EMTs), medically assessed Brame and determined that during the incident Brame was not in medical distress.

Taylor agreed with attorney Peter Perroni, who represents Siopes, that Florence had evaluated Brame in the holding cell and determined she had normal breathing and her chest was rising and falling.

Perroni asked Taylor if he thought he was better qualified to assess Brame's medical condition from a video rather than the personnel who dealt with Brame?

Taylor responded that in his opinion Brame needed medical attention, "I stand by that.


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Perroni cited 13 cases dating back to 2008 -- and a New Year's Eve 2009 incident where Taylor was the officer in charge -- when officers carried in people who were highly intoxicated, placed them in holding cells under protective custody, but never sought medical attention for them despite being falling down drunk.

Perroni also grilled Taylor about the Board of Inquiry citing the lack of first-responder training required of the detention attendants, who are supposed to oversee people in the holding cells.

"You didn't want to get to the bottom of why there was no training?'' Perroni asked Taylor. "Didn't you want that information before you rendered judgement on Lt. Siopes?''

Perroni noted that Taylor sent a letter saying he was going to ask the Board of Inquiry to look at "other aspects of the case,'' but did he?

"My memory, '' Taylor said, is that he did not. "I don't have a memory of doing it,'' he testified.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan's investigation into Brame's death recommended that all Lowell Police Department personnel, both sworn and civilian, be trained "to afford a better understanding of the difference between being 'passed out' from alcohol or drugs and being 'unconscious.'"

Ryan's Office also determined last year that criminal charges were not warranted against the officers.

Other officers who dealt with Brame that night have agreed to lesser punishments in return for foregoing the disciplinary hearings. Siopes, who has been on paid administrative leave since February, was the sole officer not to accept a settlement.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Taylor was questioned by city lawyers under direct examination and defended recommending the termination of Siopes. He pointed to findings from an internal three-member Board of Inquiry, as well as Siopes' comments that he would not have done anything differently.

According to the Board of Inquiry, Siopes in addition to allegedly failing to summon medical help when needed, also allegedly failed to keep himself informed of department booking procedures; violated procedures by placing an unconscious person in a holding cell; and left at the end of his shift without informing the next commanding officer of Brame's situation.

Brame allegedly went 66 minutes -- more than twice the required length -- without being checked on by an officer.

Eric Slagle, the city's director of Development Services, is serving as hearing officer and will make his recommendation to City Manager Kevin Murphy, who decides if discipline is warranted.

For more on this story see Friday's Sun or visit http://www.lowellsun.com.