In 10 complaints filed against him in 10 years, Franconia police Cpl. Bruce McKay was repeatedly described as hostile, arrogant and over-aggressive. All echo the grievances Liko Kenney voiced against McKay before he and McKay died in a violent police stop in May.
In one 1997 complaint, a woman said McKay terrorized her when he pulled out a knife to cut a seat belt off her as she sat handcuffed in his cruiser. In 1999, the Lisbon police chief demanded that McKay stop patrolling his town for minor motor vehicle infractions. And in 2005, another police officer investigating a McKay stop told McKay to work on his confrontational demeanor.
Franconia officials released copies of the complaints late yesterday in response to a Monitor right-to-know request. The town also released copies of McKay's police academy records (with grades redacted) and nearly 30 commendations and letters of thanks that McKay received in his 11 years with the Franconia police.
Most of those were glowing, thanking McKay for above-average service. But when one letter writer complained that McKay hadn't been celebrated enough for one high-profile police stop, the Franconia chief and another officer angrily suggested that if McKay wanted more medals he should try out for the Olympics.
Together, the complaints and the kind words leave a mixed impression.
McKay, 48, died on duty in May while trying to stop Kenney, 24 of neighboring Eason, for an expired registration. Kenney and McKay knew one another from a 2003 arrest during which both hit the other, and Kenney insisted that McKay call backup in on the registration stop.
When McKay refused, Kenney drove off. McKay followed, forced Kenney off the road and pepper-sprayed him. As McKay turned to walk away, Kenney shot him four times and ran over McKay, killing him. A passer-by then shot Kenney.
Since their deaths, there has been intense speculation among locals about the complaints in McKay's personnel file. Until yesterday, the town had been willing only to list the number of complaints against McKay.
Seven of the 10 complaints were filed in 1997. All were provided with the letter writers' names blacked out.
In one, filed in September 1997, a teacher with a degree in criminal justice wrote a lengthy letter to Franconia Chief Mark Montminy complaining that McKay had been rude and terrorized her during a intoxication stop.
The woman, who was ultimately acquitted of drunk driving, according to her letter, said McKay was impatient and rude to her during a field sobriety test. Tired of her questions about the test, McKay handcuffed the woman and put her in the cruiser, with her hands behind her.
Without explaining what he was doing, McKay then used a knife to cut the cruiser's seat belt off, near the woman's abdomen. "I was TERRORIZED," the woman wrote in her complaint to Montminy.
At the station, McKay told the woman she had waited too long to take a blood-alcohol test and therefore would automatically lose her license, her complaint said. So even after she beat the drunk driving charge, she couldn't drive.
And McKay kept tabs on her.
A few months after the first stop, McKay saw the woman's car leaving a Franconia grocery store and followed it, eventually pulling it over. The woman's 17-year-old daughter was behind the wheel, driving them for groceries. McKay approached the car and told them he needed to make sure the woman wasn't driving.
"Bruce McKay has serious power and control issues," the woman wrote.
In another 1997 complaint to the police department, a letter writer complained that McKay stopped him for going 56 mph in a 40 mph zone. But the stop was in Bethlehem, not Franconia.
The person pulled over and waited several minutes for McKay to approach his vehicle. When McKay didn't show, the person began to approach the cruiser but was told "in a very abrupt and intimidating manner to get back in my car," the complaint reads.
Nearly 20 minutes later, while refusing to give a reason for the stop, McKay gave the person a summons for speeding. The person asked Montminy that the charges be dropped and suggested McKay improve his attitude.
"If you wonder why you have such a difficult time getting your budget approved by the townspeople, then impress upon your employees the importance of treating the people who pay your salary with a lot more respect," the person wrote.
One woman complained twice in 1997.
The first time, she was upset that McKay approached her young daughter outside a downtown business and demanded identification. When the girl asked why, McKay reportedly said, "Because I asked for one." He later explained that he was looking for two local runaways who were 13 and 14.
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