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Monday, 22 September 2014 00:00

Assault on Seekonk Tow Yard Operator Blamed on PTSD

The suspect in a vicious beating of a tow yard owner earlier this week is a former Army Ranger who blamed his post-traumatic stress for the incident, according to court testimony today.

Douglas Allen, 58, suffered some kind of mental distress when he repeatedly punched the owner of Seekonk Auto Body on Tuesday in a dispute over a bill for his car, his lawyer, Colleen Tynan said.

The incident, which sent owner Thomas Clark and a responding police officer to a hospital was not premeditated, Tynan said in a plea against holding Allen without bail following a dangerousness hearing in Taunton District Court.

"There's obviously something going on," Tynan said.The New Bedford defense lawyer said her client was an Army veteran and union laborer who had no prior criminal record. She said he was remorseful about the attack on Clark, but maintains he did not assault the police officers.Clark was called into court for the hearing so the judge could see the marks still visible on his face from the attack, but he did not testify.

Allen, of East Providence, attacked Clark after he went to get his car, which was impounded at the tow yard. The car was towed last month after Allen was stopped, allegedly for driving without a license, police said.

The bill was initially $1,300, but Clark agreed to settle for $600 before he was assaulted in front of several witnesses, Seekonk police Lt. David Dyson testified.Dyson, the first officer on the scene, testified Allen refused police commands and had to be hit with a Taser three times before police were able to subdue him.

Dyson said Allen was wearing a heavy sweatshirt, which might have prevented the metal electrical probes from working effectively.

"This is my PTSD," Dyson quoted Allen as saying at one point, among other "ramblings," some of which Dyson said he could not understand.

"He told me his chest was made of titanium," Dyson testified.

Dyson said that when he arrived at the scene on Industrial Court, Allen refused to stop, and threatened to kill him.

Police later talked to Clark, whose face was bloodied, and was traumatized by the assault.

"He was in fear for his life. He thought that he was going to die," Dyson testified.

Contrary to prior reports, five cellphone videos police obtained did not capture the assault on Clark. Dyson testified the videos only showed the police struggle with Allen.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Gregory Phillips ordered Allen held in jail without bail under the state's dangerousness law.However, the judge seemed convinced that Allen needed help for possible mental health problems. He urged Tynan to work with the defendant and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to get Allen whatever help he needs.

Allen has pleaded innocent to attempted murder, assault and battery and assault and battery on a police officer.

The case was continued to Oct. 8 for a probable cause hearing.


Online Editor Victoria Antonelli recieved written permission to use this article from Craig Borges, managing editor at The Sun Chronicle of Attleboro, Mass.

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