BOSTON — An Ayer man who is serving time in jail has filed a federal lawsuit against the Ayer Police Department, claiming the chief and officers engaged in racial profiling and defamed him after his arrest for allegedly throwing gasoline on a co-worker and threatening to set him ablaze.
Ray A. Jones, 50, formerly of 20 Washington St. but and now incarcerated at the Middlesex House of Correction in Billerica, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging that the Ayer Police Department targeted him as an African-American and then defamed him in comments police made about the May 9, 2007 incident.
No monetary damages were stated in the lawsuit.
Jones, who is acting as his own attorney, was unavailable for comment because he is in jail. Attorney Leonard Kesten, who represents the Ayer police, could not be reached for comment.
Former Ayer police Chief Richard Rizzo told reporters before Jones’ arraignment that Jones appeared to be intoxicated when he jumped into a ditch where another Rice Paving co-worker was working.
When told to get out, Jones allegedly picked up a large rock and threw it at one of the men who was working the backhoe. The rock hit the backhoe. Rizzo said Jones got a gasoline can, filled it at a nearby gas station and returned to douse his supervisor, Brian Michalzyk, with gas and threatened to set him on fire with a lighter.
But Jones alleges in his lawsuit that he was working at Depot Square in Ayer when Michalzyk told him to use a tapping machine to pack the dirt prior to paving. Another worker became hostile and belligerent and began screaming at Jones, using racial slurs, he alleges. That worker was joined by another and Michalzyk in hurling racial slurs, Jones alleges.
In anger, Jones picked up a rock and threw it at the backhoe and left the construction site to purchase a can of gasoline to use on his lawnmower and chain saw, Jones said in his lawsuit. The gas station was next door to the construction site.
On the way back, Jones passed the construction site again and endured more racial name-calling, swears and references to the KKK, he alleges. One of the co-workers allegedly physically attacked Jones and Michalzyk stepped in to break up the fight.
When Jones picked up the gas can to leave, Michalzyk attempted to take the gas can away and some spilled during the tugging, Jones alleges. Eventually, Jones left with the gas can and went home. Jones was carrying a lighter because he smokes.
Police arrived at his door soon after. When told he was under arrest, Jones alleges he kept asking what the charges were. Jones claims the officers told him to stop resisting arrest and then sprayed him in the face and eyes with chemical spray.
Jones alleges he was denied medical treatment and that Ayer police made a reference that Jones appeared to be intoxicated, in a statement made to Fox 25 news and The Sun. As a result of the arrest, Jones says he suffered chest pains, lost his job, and exacerbated his depression.
Jones, who has a history of violent criminal charges dating back to 1980, was convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault with a dangerous weapon, resisting arrest and threatening to commit a crime. He was sentenced to two years in jail with six months to serve.