Hero Iraq vet tossed from wheelchair in cop brawl
By Laurel J. Sweet
Monday, April 24, 2006 - Updated: 12:59 AM EST

A nationally acclaimed Marine paralyzed in the Iraq War was tossed from his wheelchair and an undercover cop knocked out cold with a broken jaw during a mad melee early yesterday morning at a Revere Beach bar.

“I said, ‘I’m a Marine. What are you doing?’ ” James Crosby, 21, told the Herald he pleaded for his life as he was allegedly being hoisted off the ground by his windbreaker and slammed back down by Revere police officers. “They said, ‘If you’re a Marine then you know how to shut the (expletive) up.’ ”

The brawl took place shortly before 2 a.m. yesterday at Bill Ash’s Lounge on Revere Beach. Crosby, a decorated jarhead U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy last year declared “an inspiration to us all” for his work on behalf of wounded veterans, was there with Dan Brennan, 21, and Tommy LeBlanc, 26, childhood buddies from Winthrop. Crosby said the cops weren’t there to serve and protect, they were bellies up to the bar.

Revere Police Chief Terencecq Reardon confirmed Lt. John Goodwin and officers Dave Wilson and Robert Impemba, who go undercover on an overtime basis funded by grant money, had knocked off work at 12:30 a.m. after 6 hours on the job because it was pouring rain and headed to Bill Ash’s “for an after-work beer.”

Crosby, Brennan, LeBlanc and a fourth friend, Mike Chambers, 27, had headed there, too.

At closing time, the chief said, “The bouncer was having problems” persuading the friends to leave until Goodwin, hoping to restore the peace, stood up and identified himself as a police officer. That’s when Chambers, according to Reardon, “sucker-punched” Goodwin, 42, knocking him out.

Goodwin’s brother, Lt. Jerry Goodwin, who responded to the scene as backup, said the friends had wanted to bring their beers with themand surrounded the bouncer outside. Jerry Goodwin said police have identified and were looking for another manwho also attacked his brother.

But Crosby, Brennan and LeBlanc told a different story. They claimed that although Chambers had too much to drink and was mouthing off to the bar’s staff, he had turned his back on the officers and was walking out the door when he was “bum-rushed.”

“We weren’t loud, we weren’t disorderly,” Crosby said. “We didn’t know they were cops. They instigated it. They overreacted.”

Reardon said after Goodwin “went down like a ton of bricks” and Impemba tried to revive him, Wilson tackled Chambers. Crosby admitted he thought Goodwin was dead.

Brennan said that’s when he tried to intervene on Chambers’ behalf and found himself staring down the barrel of one cop’s gun.

“He pointed the gun right in my face and said, ‘Get the (expletive) on the ground! ” Brennan, who was not injured, recalled. “They were yelling to each other, ‘I’m going to put a bullet in one of their heads!’ They were crazy. ”

LeBlanc, according to Crosby and Brennan, was handcuffed, grabbed by the ears and repeatedly slammed face first into a brick wall. LeBlanc suffered a bruised and swollen left eye socket.

Crosby said when he tried to help LeBlanc, a cop punched him in the face and sent him flying onto the pavement.

“Nobody punched James Crosby,” Jerry Goodwin said. “He grabbed me by the arm and was yanking and pulling and yes, his wheelchair tipped over. The kid’s a war hero. We respect that. But he was fighting and resisting and out of control.”

Chambers, Brennan and LeBlanc were arrested at the scene and will be arraigned today in Chelsea District Court on assault and disorderly conduct charges. Crosby will be summonsed at a later date on charges of assaulting and interfering with a police officer.