Defense seeks trial outside Berkshire County for Pittsfield officer, other man charged with assault

By Bob Dunn, The Berkshire Eagle PITTSFIELD — Attorneys for the two men, including a suspended city police officer, accused of assaulting a Dalton man in July 2016 and trying to cover it up are seeking to have their upcoming trial heard outside of Berkshire County. Attorneys Timothy Shugrue and Timothy Burke, representing officer Michael McHugh and Jason Labelle, respectively, filed the motion in Berkshire Superior Court on Tuesday.

Judge Karen Goodwin has taken the matter under advisement. Details regarding the motion were not immediately available, but the move appears to be a response to concerns about being able to secure an impartial jury in Berkshire County in light of McHugh being a member of the Pittsfield Police Department. It is also unclear in which county the trial would be heard, should the motion prevail.

McHugh was off-duty from the police department the night of July 4, 2016, when the alleged assault took place. He was placed on suspension without pay in August 2017 following his indictment by a Berkshire County grand jury and a local civil service hearing, according to Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn.

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According to court documents, Labelle told McHugh he and his family were being harassed by Michael Cebula. The two spotted him pulling into a driveway about 10 p.m. and approached him.

According to court documents, McHugh then pulled him from the truck and held him down while Labelle kicked and beat him. Both defendants are also charged with providing false information in the case. McHugh has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, misleading a police officer and being a public employee making a false report.

Labelle has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, falsely reporting a crime, misleading a judge and misleading a clerk. The defendants remain free on personal recognizance with the condition they have no contact with Cebula. Cebula recently filed a federal civil lawsuit against McHugh, Labelle and the city of Pittsfield, seeking unspecified damages.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.

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