Advertisement

New Hampshire diner fight leads to charges against former police officer, allegations of racism

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — A late-night fight at a New Hampshire diner has led to an assault charge against a former police officer and arrest warrants for two others, authorities said. The victim claimed it was a racist attack but the officer has denied that, according to a news outlet.

Aaron Goodwin, 45, of Eliot, Maine, turned himself in on Friday, the New Hampshire State Police said in a news release. Seacoastonline quotes him as saying in a prepared statement that the incident was not racially motivated and that he was acting in defense of his sister-in-law.

The charges stem from a confrontation at a diner in Portsmouth on the night of Nov. 22, 2023, state police said. When Portsmouth Police officers arrived, they encountered several people, including Goodwin. They contacted state police after Goodwin was identified as a former Portsmouth Police officer, the release said. It did not provide any details about what exactly happened.

The NH BIPoC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) Coalition said Friday that it viewed the incident “as an unprovoked, racist attack on a Black New Hampshire resident and by extension, as an attack on all people and communities of color.”

“We are pleased that today’s arrest has dispelled any doubts that the delay in prosecution cast about the severity of attack," the coalition said in a written statement.

Goodwin told Seacoastonline that the victim pursued his sister-in-law “and I perceived him as a threat after he put his tray of food on the ground and got in her face.”

“I pulled him away from her," he said. ”There was nothing more. The entire incident is on surveillance. After a four month long investigation I’m not being charged with anything race related.”

Arrest warrants also have been issued for Kevin Goodwin, 42, and Shannon Goodwin, 37 of Dundalk, Maryland. Kevin Goodwin faces a simple assault charge and Shannon Goodwin faces three counts of simple assault, state police said. No telephone listings could be located for them to seek comment. Police did not say how Aaron, Kevin and Shannon Goodwin are related.

Aaron Goodwin was fired from the Portsmouth Police Department in 2015 after a judge-led panel investigating a $2.7 million inheritance dispute determined that he breached the police department’s code of ethics and duty manual.

The panel concluded that Goodwin should have refused an elderly woman's offer to leave him her estate and should have notified supervisors of the offer. A judge stripped Goodwin of the inheritance, saying the officer was “self-serving” when he befriended the woman, who was in her 90s and had dementia.