LOWELL -- Ian Bardwell suffers from bipolar disorder and wasn't thinking clearly when he attacked a Townsend police officer while escaping from police lockup in October, but the "horrifying" details of the attack cannot not be ignored, a judge said Tuesday.
Bardwell, 21, of Vineyard Haven, did not have a plea deal with prosecutors, but nevertheless pleaded guilty to strangulation/suffocation, assault and battery on a police officer with intent to disarm, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and escape.
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger sentenced Bardwell to a year and a half in prison followed by three years of probation.
Bardwell must undergo substance abuse and mental health evaluations, and comply with any treatment recommendations.
"All of these things together will achieve both punishment and rehabilitation," Brieger said.
Townsend police arrested Bardwell on warrants on Oct. 8. Bardwell was taken to a hospital for evaluation while being held over a long weekend.
Officer George Reidy was returning Bardwell to lockup following the hospital visit and was the only officer in the police station when Bardwell refused to return to his cell on Oct. 10, according to Assistant District Attorney Daniel Harren.
Bardwell asked to watch the Red Sox and claimed to be God before he pushed past Reidy and got into the police station's garage just as a dispatcher raised a garage door, enabling Bardwell to slip outside, Harren said.
Reidy followed Bardwell outside and tased him, causing Bardwell to fall to the ground. Reidy got one handcuff on Bardwell, but was overpowered as he attempted to lock Bardwell's other hand in the cuffs.
Reidy ended up face down on the ground with Bardwell on his back as Bardwell put the officer in a chokehold that blocked his airway.
Bardwell then took Reidy's Taser and aimed it at Reidy as he squeezed the trigger, only to discover Reidy had disabled the Taser after using it.
Bardwell then charged at Reidy and struck him in the head with the Taser before fleeing down Dudley Road. Sgt. Randy Girard, who was en route to backup Reidy at the station, took Bardwell back into custody a short time later.
Reidy did not make a victim impact statement, but Harren said the officer told him the incident will have a "significant impact" on the rest of his life.
"I don't think I can overstate the seriousness of this offense," Harren said.
Bardwell's attorney, Peter Ettenberg, submitted several letters about Bardwell's character as he said Bardwell is "a big loving kid with a good sense of humor" who often tries to help others.
Ettenberg said Bardwell dealt with the warrants that led Townsend police to arrest him, and had no criminal record, though he is currently on probation.
He said Bardwell entered a "downward spiral" of mental illness after his mother died, and was in and out of mental health treatment facilities. Bardwell was off his medication at the time of the attack. Ettenberg also read a letter Bardwell wrote apologizing to Reidy.
Ettenberg asked for a sentence of time served.
"This is a young man who needs mental health treatment," Ettenberg said.
Brieger said she disagreed with both sentencing recommendations, even though she agreed Bardwell appeared to be "not thinking clearly" due to his mental illness.
"The facts are quite horrifying to me, knowing the risks and responsibilities each police officer takes on each day when they go to work," Brieger said. "He (Reidy) was at risk of death, and he was just trying to do his job. Now there are consequences for this."
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